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Let It Be…Naked
L et It Be has been documented on film and record. The recording sessions that resulted in the album have been written about in countless articles and books. So why Naked ? The obvious answer is that there’s no time like the present to continue mining Beatles gold. When Capitol Records released the Beatles No.1 just prior to the holidays in 2000, the disc went to number 1 on the charts and sat there. Nothing says Hanukah or Christmas for a record executive like having a top-selling album that only required cleaning up some old tapes and slapping a new jacket on the package.
Boomers are still a viable force in the marketplace, especially when is comes to the dwindling sales of record companies. After all it isn’t 17-year-olds who are buying all those re-mastered versions of Dylan, Joplin, and the Airplane. It is actually amazing how little of the vast collection of alternate takes and other material recorded by the Beatles hasn’t been released. While every record company is tripping over themselves to re-master and re-release material under banners such as Essential and The Very Best Of, Capitol Records has yet to re-master one of the Beatles’ original albums.
Let It Be grew out of the Fab Four’s desire to get back to basics. The attempt was to be entitled Get Back and was meant to be spontaneous and under-produced. It was only two years previous that the group had set the rock world on its ear with the multi-layered Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band . The Fab Four, fragmenting since manager Brian Epstein’s death in August 1967, felt that the Get Back sessions would be a constructive way of mending the band. The idea of doing a documentary of the recording sessions was also planned. Unfortunately, the plan misfired. The resulting film, which hasn’t been available for over a decade, showed the group more fragmented than fans ever thought possible. The Beatles eventually decided to shelve the sessions and moved on to recording new material that eventually became Abbey Road , the group’s final studio album. Interestingly, 12 of the songs that eventually made their way on to Abbey Road were first introduced and worked on during the Get Back sessions.
In January 1970, the year after the Get Back sessions were recorded, the tapes were given to Phil Spector to sort through and assemble. The result was Let It Be , an album that wasn’t the home run most had come to expect of the Beatles, but a mighty fine album nonetheless. The album does contain the title track, “Get Back” and “Across The Universe.” That alone puts it head and shoulders over anything currently on the charts. It was specifically Spector’s sweet strings and hymnal vocal touches that McCartney objected to, which created a cloud that hung over the album for years.
Thirty-three years after its initial release, Let It Be finally got the reworking Paul wanted. The result is a mixed bag for Beatle aficionados. Let It Be…Naked not only removes all of Spector’s production, but also the songs sequence has been changed as well. The re-worked album does make interesting listening for fans, including those not old enough to remember the many bootlegged versions of the sessions that surfaced before Let It Be was officially released in May 1970. The music is sparse and as pared down as one could get. The title track still retains the power of redemption and that all things are possible, even minus the Wagnerian Spector flourishes. “The Long And Winding Road” is leaner and not nearly as syrupy and sappy as its original mix. All of the material benefits from 30 years of technology. The songs are cleaner and have a punch and presence that just wasn’t sonically available back in the days of eight-track analog recording. George’s slide guitar work on “For You Blue” swings harder and the chosen mix gives Ringo’s drums far more snap than the original. The album’s standout piece is “One After 909.” While Naked uses original takes, the re-mastering benefits the song by adding an extra kick to the proceedings.
The album’s downside is the total lack of documentation of which takes were used on the revamped Naked . While this may seem like nitpicking, Beatle musicologist, Mark Lewisohn put out a book years ago detailing nearly every take of those sessions. It certainly wouldn’t have been that difficult to include the date of the recording and its take number in the multi-page booklet whose text is primarily comprised of dialogue snippets of the Fab Four and Michael Lindsey-Hogg, director of the film Let It Be .
Since there are still a few more Christmases ahead before baby boomers hit retirement age and a fixed income, we can only hope that the film Let It Be will again see the light of day and that Capitol Records will dig a little deeper into the vaults and try a little harder to release recordings that shed more light on the greatest rock ’n’ roll band to have passed this way.
John Zavesky is a freelance writer who's articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Press/Enterprise, and the San Diego Union , as well as other periodicals.
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; firstname.lastname@example.org; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; email@example.com; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.