The two surviving Beatles, Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, are preparing the original soundtrack to Let It Be for release as a new Beatles music product in the Fall of 2003. The late George Harrision had given his approval of this new Beatles project before his death in November 2001.
Beatles drummer Ringo Starr commented, "It's the de-Spectorized version. Same tracks, same people. I was listening to it recently, and it was really great. I've been away from it a long time too. It fills my heart with joy to hear that band that I was a member of. They were just great. And also, the quietness of the tracks: It's a beautiful CD".
McCartney had been opposed to Specter's initial involvement. Starr stated, "I told him on the phone [recently], 'You're bloody right again: It sounds great without Phil.' Which it does. Now we'll have to put up with him telling us over and over again, 'I told you.'"
Let It Be was initially conceived as Get Back, a back-to-basics Beatles studio performance concept to showcase The Beatles at work as a four piece unit without any overdubs or studio wizardry, which the band had developed as part of their signature sound. Sir George Martin had begun the project as producer in January 1969.
The Beatles were essentially unaccustomed to creating music early each morning on a massive soundstage. The album project was both recorded and filmed at the same time. However, The Beatles had begun to experience friction in their interpersonal relationships during the process, which eventually led to the abandonment of the entire project once the task of production was required to finish it.
John Lennon made the decision to ask producer Phil Spector to salvage the Get Back tracks and pull together an album of material to constitute a film soundtrack out of the hours of reel to reel tapes The Beatles had recorded for the project. Martin disassociated himself from the final release.
McCartney was unsatisfied with the overproduced Spector version of the Let It Be soundtrack, but did not immediately voice his objections to thwart the acetate from going onto the mastering process. Sir Paul is pleased that Beatles fans will now hear the stripped-down album as he felt it should have been released.
McCartney's primary complaint has been the string arrangement Specter produced on his composition "The Long and Winding Road". Specter was handed the tapes after The Beatles' disintegration as a group had accelerated. Footage of the group rehearsing and recording captures a dysfunctional band.
Veteran British music producer Glyn Johns, sound engineer on the original Get Back sessions, awaits the restored release of Let It Be. "My version of [the song] "Get Back" actually was released fairly quickly as a single", he says. "And my version of [the song] "Let It Be" was also released, before Phil Spector puked all over it. And I hope you quote me on that. If you hear "The Long and Winding Road" without all that schlock on it, it's fabulous just like it is".
Get Back was an attempt for The Beatles to recreate the beauty of their musical magic sans studio tricks. The lads even posed to recreate the shot that adorned their 1963 Please Please Me album cover, leaning over the balcony of the EMI office staircase. That photograph was later used as the cover for The Beatles 1967 - 1970, released in 1973.
Additional plans include the Let It Be movie being released on DVD to accompany the new CD. Speculation over whether unreleased footage will surface in the restored version is currently unclear. The project has been anticipated for a while and prompted the recovery of stolen audio reels recently.
A joint piracy raid conducted by British and Dutch authorities recovered 500 reel to reel tapes of Bealtes recordings from the ill-fated Get Back project this past January. 34 years missing after they were originally recorded, the tapes turned up in the hands of a massive bootlegging ring.
Beatles fans will be rewarded this summer with the DVD release of the 1996 The Beatles Anthology documentary, which has added unseen interview material, most of which draws on the lone occasion when McCartney, Starr, and Harrison were interviewed together.
Mitt Namlitt CyberSnews@yahoo.com
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Surviving Beatles remaster original Let It Be soundtrack
by Timothy Tilghman