Wednesday, February 07, 2007

But We Love Tape Hiss!

Above are scans of an interesting article on Let It Be...Naked from the December 2003 Mojo magazine. The LIBN project--I sort of see it as a pointless exercise, and that Apple's time, energy and money would have been better spent on more worthwhile endeavors, e.g., a DVD of all their promo videos, The Beatles at Shea Stadium, etc. I guess what bugged me the most about the project was the fact that it was not "naked" at all--not the "trousers down" Glyn Johns mixes, but rather a creation from edits flown in from here, there and everywhere at times. Oh, and read that paragraph about Pro-Tools...not a favorite program of mine or many others reading this blog, I'm sure. How can something be stripped down and authentic when all the ambiance is completely removed? *insert heavy sigh here* I'd like to get some opinions on which version you favor--Glyn Johns, Spector, or LIBN?

The reason I am posting this article is because the team employed for the LIBN project are reportedly the same people who have been working on the eagerly awaited UK remasters of the Beatles' canon at Abbey Road studios. This same team also did the recent Living in the Material World reiusse, which I thought was quality work (but what do I know, really). I suppose there is no way that every fan will be satisfied with the remasters, but let's hope they will be of the quality deserving of the world's most beloved and revered group.

If only the deluxe DVD of Let It Be would magically appear...

(Click on the scans to enlarge.)


John Winn said...

I never thought there would be a released Beatles album I never listened to, but LIBN managed to pull it off.

I guess it doesn't help that I've heard those particular songs/takes a zillion times, but there's nothing compelling about making an ostensibly "naked" album and then dressing it up by stitching takes together (Don't Let Me Down), adding digital delay (Across The Universe), including overdubs (Let It Be), and removing every bit of interesting dialogue and chatter.

I'll take Glyn's REAL naked mix, flaws and all, over LIBN's airbrushed "Playboy" centerfold every time.

Anonymous said...

LIBN is such a dissapointment. I think the idea was good, but the execution poor. It appears that Let it be is cursed to be a forever be a mishandled project.
I prefer Glyn's raw mix, in preference to the sterile LIBN.

If i was to have a Let it Be DVD beautifully restored and stuffed full of extras, i would care less about what has become of the album :).

Hopefully the critisism of LIBN and the good jobs done on "Love"
and "Living in the Material world" show that Apple has learned from its mistakes and will get the job right on the remasters.

musicfanattic said...

I love LIBN as well as the Glyn Johns mixes (I don't like the Spectorized one). LIBN may have it's flaws and detractors, but get over it. It's a Beatles album and a beautiful restoration project.

One thing that always bugged me about the original Let It Be was how disjointed it sounded ... talk about pieced together! Some complete songs here, incomplete songs there, over-complete songs elsewhere ... quite a mess actually.

On LIBN, the remastering/mixing/whatever makes all the songs sound like they were recorded at the same session and therefore sound like they all finally belong together on the same album. I didn't feel like that with the original.

The other nice thing about LIBN is the song placement. The original always seemed Paul-heavy to me, but LIBN flows nicely from song-to-song and is quite balanced throughout. They did a really smart job with it. It's an absolute joy to listen to and the engineering makes it a nice compliment to Abbey Road sound-wise. They sound like back-to-back albums now.

I really enjoy listening to the crispness of the mixes ... the subtle nuances of Ringo's playing I never heard or appreciated before and I love being able to discern John and George's different guitar parts ... it's just stunning to listen to.

Does ProTools make it sound somewhat sterile as opposed to "live?" At times perhaps, but I became so enthralled with the individual performances and overall flow of the project that it didn't bother me after a while. It started to remind me of Abbey Road in a way and that seemed to make it all okay.

If you approach LIBN as being what the Beatles originally intended to make, you'll be disappointed; it's not. Go listen to the Glyn Johns mixes. But, if you think of LIBN as the Beatles album that should have been produced if they had had a producer, you may like it better. Raw? Definitely not. Naked? Not really. Produced? Absolutely, and what's wrong with that? All their other albums were produced!

As for song placement, you can look at the differences, but you really have to listen to appreciate how well it works. Remember, "Dig It" and "Maggie Mae" were throwaways, so that only leaves two complete John songs on the original, both at the beginning. That leaves it pretty Paul-heavy. Oh, and if you want to get technical, what was "Across The Universe" doing on there anyway?!

LIBN adds "Don't Let Me Down" (brilliant) which makes for three complete John songs. For those keeping score, that's three John songs, three Paul songs, two George songs and then the "duets." The three "duets" make for a super nice transition: a Paul song at #4, then Paul & John at #5, Paul with John at #6, John with Paul at #7 and finally just John at #8. It's beautifully done and makes the album very enjoyable for me to listen to (and you too if you'd give it a try).

Anyway, that's what I think. Thanks for letting me have my say.

Two of Us - Paul & John
Dig A Pony - John
Across The Universe - John
I Me Mine - George
Dig It - John
Let It Be - Paul
Maggie Mae - mostly John
I've Got A Feeling - Paul with John
One After 909 - John with Paul
The Long and Winding Road - Paul
For You Blue - George
Get Back - Paul

Get Back - Paul
Dig A Pony - John
For You Blue - George
The Long And Winding Road - Paul
Two of Us - Paul & John
I've Got A Feeling - Paul with John
One After 909 - John with Paul
Don't Let Me Down - John
I Me Mine - George
Across The Universe - John
Let It Be - Paul

child of nature said...

Thanks for your comments, musicfanattic! (I have LIBN on both cd and UK vinyl--I prefer the record.)

I think the problem with the project was that consumers were led to believe that this was the definitive LIB presented without overdubs--raw and naked in a sense. (The title doesn't help any.) I also think that, considering the absolute wealth of material available from this time, a more comprehensive "Fly on the Wall" disc could have been created.

I do like the LIBN track listing, and I'm always interested in a new Beatles project. I think the intentions of the project were perhaps good, but in the end, the final product was not as interesting or exciting as it could have been.

I certainly hope that the remasters will not be Pro-Tooled/No Noised to death.

Thanks, everyone, for your comments.

Evan said...

It is very interesting to see just how controversial the infamous Get Back/Let It Be project remains to this day. In some ways, the release of LIBN has only increased the controversy.

My feelings about the whole Get Back/Let It Be project have changed a lot through the years. When I was younger and first really getting seriously into every aspect of the Beatles' recording career, I was a down-right "purist" when it came to the Let It Be sessions. I sought out bootlegs of the sessions, found bits and pieces of the Glyn Johns' Get Back albums, and longed for the day when these would be released in all their truly "naked", un-Spectorized glory. And just as others who have commented here, I was at first rather disappointed with how LIBN was handled (scrapping the "audio verite" moments altogether, which always seemed to be an intregal part of both the Johns' Get Back albums and the Spectorized Let It Be album, seemed to be very mysterious to me).

After listening to LIBN a few times, however, and also reading some of the accompanying articles that came out around the time (like the Mojo one), I came to realize that LIBN is REALLY the album the Beatles' intended the project to be. Keep in mind that none of them, particularly John Lennon, was too keen about the Glyn Johns Get Back album mixes. The group themselves went back several times to record overdubs onto some of the songs ("Let It Be" being the most obvious), therefore more or less abandoning the original "live, warts and all" concept that they went into it with.

Unlike most diehard fans, I personally think the Glyn Johns Get Back album mixes aren't the most flattering to the group. They are interesting, for sure--the off-the-cuff moments like the jam of "Rocker" and brief, tongue-in-cheek rendition of "Save The Last Dance For Me" really do offer a taste of the nature of these sessions, and the extended "Dig It" is excellent--but anyone that's heard it knows that it also contains a terrible version of "I've Got A Feeling" that breaks down half-way through the song! (it's actually the same one that appears on the Anthology 3 CD). Can you imagine THAT version being the only one ever released? Despite trying to get back to a "live" and basic sound, there's no way that the Beatles would have ever truly allowed a sloppy piece of work to be released to the general public.

The thing that LIBN accomplishes, for all intents and purposes, is it takes the best of the songs recorded during that tumultous time (the ones that the Beatles themselves chose as the ones to perform "live" at the rooftop concert and the "studio" concert the following day) and presents them as close as possible to the way all four Beatles would have wanted them presented to the world.

Sorry for the rambling comment, but I love your blog, and the Get Back/Let It Be phase of the group has always been a favorite of mine! :)

Anonymous said...

As a first generation fan, when Let It Be was first released it was truly a disappointment. It was a rather depressing time for Beatle fans and for me that feeling stuck with me in regard to Let It Be. Over the years (and decades) I hardly ever reached for it when wanting a Beatle LP to enjoy. But I love Let It Be Naked. Now Let It Be is one of my favorites and once it's in my CD player I usually have repeated listenings. The songs on Let It Be are truly excellent and the new remaster and track list finally make the album a winner. From now on I'll only listen to Let It Be Naked when I want to hear that group of songs.