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Let It Be – The Beatles

Let It Be

(1970), 5.5/10
After the studio based The White Album, reliant on overdubs and worked on gradually, The Beatles tried a back to basic, live in studio approach for Let It Be. The album was pushed back – it was originally earmarked for release before Abbey Road, and Wall of Sound producer Phil Spector was eventually called in to overhaul the tapes. His overbearing string arrangements are at odds with the back to basics approach, making the album a strange amalgam of straightforward songs and grandiose epics. More problematically, the group just sound tired and fragmented – there are some very good songs, but it’s still the weakest Beatles’ studio album.

There are highlights – McCartney’s ‘The Long and Winding Road’ is drenched in syrupy strings, but it’s still beautiful, while his gospel tinged title track is even better, culminating in a gorgeous guitar solo from Harrison. Lennon’s gentle ‘Across The Universe’ is also pretty, while Harrison’s ‘I Me Mine’ is enjoyable, but there’s a feeling that Lennon and Harrison were holding back their best songs for solo projects.

Let It Be has some good material, but it’s still very weak by The Beatles’ high standards, and is a disappointing end to The Beatles’ career. McCartney reworked the album without Spector’s overdubs on 2003’s Let It Be….Naked; I haven’t heard it, and while it might be stronger than the original release, I doubt there’s a masterpiece album from these sessions given the lack of strong material.

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