The Beatles have announced a deluxe reissue of their final studio album, Let It Be.
“I had always thought the original film Let It Be was pretty sad as it dealt with the break-up of our band,” Paul McCartney explains in the booklet for the special edition reissue. “But the new film shows the camaraderie and love the four of us had between us. It also shows the wonderful times we had together, and combined with the newly remastered Let It Be album, stands as a powerful reminder of this time. It’s how I want to remember The Beatles.”
Through the Peter Jackson-helmed project and the latest comments from both McCartney and Ringo Starr in the wake of the film’s announcement, there’s a fair amount of revisionist history going on with Let It Be. Framed no longer as the document that most clearly illustrates the band’s dysfunction and imminent demise, the Let It Be album is now being touted as an under-appreciated masterwork from a band that only made masterworks.
I’m a little less convinced. I’ve listened to Let It Be Naked, I’ve seen the preview clips of the new film, and I’ve read all of the comments that the band themselves made during, and especially after, the album’s release and the primary word that still comes to mind is “dysfunctional”. In whatever form it’s presented, Let It Be still falls just short of the incredibly high bar that The Beatles set for themselves with albums like Abbey Road and Revolver.
With that being said, it’s still a Beatles album, which means it still has a lot to like about it. The major interest for me in this reissue is the original 1969 mix that legendary producer Glyn Johns originally made for the project. If you’ve read Johns’ memoir Sound Man, and you really should, he describes his role in the making of the albums, and the relations within the band, as confused and nebulous. Everybody was still making high-quality music, and probably having some fun doing it, but there was a broader sense of uncertainty and awkwardness that Let It Be just can’t shake.
Also included in the new reissue are unreleased session takes and rehearsals, studio jams, and new mixes by Giles Martin and engineer Sam Okell. Basically, it’s the same rollout that was given to Sgt. Pepper’s, The White Album, and Abbey Road on their “super deluxe” reissues. I’ve been pretty down on Let It Be throughout this write-up, but that’s only because I know I’m going to excitedly pour over all of this new material once it is released. You’re the most critical to the things you love the most, I suppose.
The deluxe reissue of Let It Be will be available on October 15.