Ive been listening to The Beatles “Let It Be” on Qobuz. There seems to be 3 version of this album. You have a 2009 remastered version of Phil Spectors version, which is pretty much the version released commercially back in 1970 and the one we all grew up with. Then you have Giles Martin mix of Spectors version released in 2021. Then you got Paul McCartney’s mix which is titled “Let It Be…Naked”.
The Paul McCartney mixes have striped away all Phil Spectors contributions. Its not as “Naked” as it sounds. There’s some production here. We had all heard about McCartney’s displeasure with Spectors production. Especially on his great classic “The Long And Winding Road”. When I heard his version then listened to Spectors version I was quite surprised at my reaction. Yes Spectors production did sound overbearing! It just seemed like too much. A mistake George Martin would have never made. It almost seems like Spector was showboating on the Beatle recordings.
But the problem I have with McCartney’s production is it does seem rather minimal on tracks like “The Long and Winding Road” and “Across the Universe”, “Let It Be” I like them, they’re fun, but I find I’m craving more for the songs. Like these Beatle tracks deserve more. Not Phil Spectors schmaltzy additions but something…
I find I want a cross between Paul McCartney’s version and Phil Spector’s version.
The Giles Martins version has Phil Spector’s contributions toned down. Seems like they are pushed back into the soundstage and volume turned down a notch. This was fortunate as their not so prominent on the tracks. But even these additions on Giles Martins version can get to be a little too much.
Makes me wish George Martin had agreed to produce this album like all the others. Its too late now. But if the Beatles where mostly about the music, if anyone was the “Fifth Beatle” it was him.
Any observations on this?
Thank you for pointing these versions out. After listening on my 7hz timeless from Tidal Master, I would rank these as 1. 2021 2. Naked 3. 2009. I can se why Paul McCartney would not have loved the Spector version. In direct comparison to the others, it comes across as super forward (shouty even) with the instruments and vocals in the mids. Super loud mix, like late 80’s metal. The ‘Naked’ version sounds a lot better. However (on IEM’s at least) it sounds unnaturally diffuse. Also it does not sound cohesive. You can here each layer of the music coming in, one at a time. Some people may like this. But to me it sounds like a bunch of separate recordings added on different days and not really blended together as one. So it probably sounds that way, precisely because it was recorded that way. The 2021 version sounds like they took advantage of every bit of modern tech and skill available, without getting in the way of the music. All the levels seem properly balanced and nothing seems under or over emphasized. It is possible that if I listened on a two channel or car stereo etc, one of the others might sound better, but I doubt it.
The Giles Martin version of ‘Let It Be’ is actually the first of his Beatles remixes that I dislike, although I hate the original Phil Spector version even more. I am a big fan of the Giles remixes of Sgt Pepper, White Album and Abbey Road.
I think ‘Let It Be’ is the perfect YMMV album, because there are so many different versions of each song (the original album, Naked for stripped down versions, Anthology 2 & 3 for alternative takes and Past Masters for single versions) and it’s therefore quite easy to create the perfect ‘Let It Be’ for you.
Here’s my version, dropping the songs I don’t like and adding songs that were recorded during that time period. I also re-ordered the songs to create a slightly different flow. Try it. If you hate it, create your own version!
Get Back - Naked. If you prefer a bit more reverb, the single version is great too.
For You Blue - Naked.
Across The Universe - Anthology 2. A different take, with Indian instruments that give it a psychedelic feel, and a little more body than the Naked version, which is too stripped for me.
The Long And Winding Road - Anthology 3. The original master take without Spector’s overdubs.
Two Of Us - Naked. Remix of the original master take.
I’ve Got A Feeling - Naked. Combination of the original master take and a different take.
Don’t Let Me Down - Naked. For some reason, Spector dropped this from the original album, so we’ll never know how he could have ruined it.
All Things Must Pass - Anthology 3. You could argue that this wasn’t technically a Beatles song, since it’s a solo George demo, but I included it because it was intended for the album, and the band just couldn’t get a version they liked. The demo is really good.
Dig A Pony - Naked. Probably my least favorite of the songs in this list, but it provides a little variety between the 2 George songs that surround it.
I Me Mine - Naked. I think this is the master take without the Spector nonsense.
Let It Be - Naked. I love having this song at the end (as Naked has it), rather than being in the middle of the original album.
Yes i was thinking that 2. they dont sound cohesive, like 2 separate recordings. also i was getting some distortion on the 2009 version. I was using my SA1 amp, Bifrost 2 dac and the new DT900 Pro Beyerdynamic headphones. If im gonna listen to the Spector version its gonna be the 2021 version
Ah very cool thanks. i forgot about the Anthology compilations. I’ll check out your list.
Also I noticed on the Super Deluxe version of Let it Be there was the Glyn Johns produced version of the album that got rejected.
BTW on the Super Deluxe you have the single versions of the song Let it Be. It was mixed by George Martin and with the orchestrated additions mixed low and the best guitar solo imo
You’re right, I just listened to the Deluxe version of the Let It Be single and I like that the best.
Good to remember the Giles Martin version is a remix and remaster using the latest digital tool sets. Like the Rolling Stones, Yes, ELP, Jethro Tull, and other albums of the period remixed; The artistic vision often outstripped the technical capability of that day. Some of what we are hearing in these remixes is original sonic depth previously masked with the old analog mix process, sometime a convoluted process which was OK for hifi of the day but more revealed today.
Yes there are differences in the actual mix in some cases. One example is Tull’s Crosseyed Mary. There are small elements which switched channels right to left. Steve Wilson who performed a number of the above remixes made some of these changes to accomplish the end vision of the artist not possible back then.
The Stones “Goats Head Soup, Deluxe edition” has the original mix and remix of “Heart Breaker”. The difference is remarkable. A real apples-apples comparison given both are on the same mastered version. Tull’s Aqualung also has 2 hits in both mixes to witness side by side.
In analyzing the merits of the remixes there is more to consider.
I like the Beatles remixes and the reveal of more latent depth of original material.
Let It Be as the last track on the last album was wonderful. Always felt it was an appropriate sign-off for this epic band in a musical time of revolution.
I’m a big fan of the other Beatles remixes that Giles has done. I just wish that he had gone back to the undubbed tapes and produced a naked remix too.
I didn’t realize Giles had also done Goats Head Soup. I’ll have to try it, as it’s a favorite of mine. Did he clean up the murky production?
Also a big fan of Steven Wilson, both as an artist and remixer. Ironically, I was about to start listening to the Jethro Tull-Steven Wilson discography this week. I’ve only really listened to Jethro Tull compilations before, so I’ll be going into this without any baggage.
I’m not sure who did the Stones remixes. Many of their albums went from marginally listenable on a quality hifi to terrific.
All the Steve Wilson remixes are worth buying.