Just for the record (no pun intended), I’d like to put in my two cents on the Let It Be original vs. Let It Be Naked.
Specifically, the versions of Let It Be, the song.
Last night I listened to them carefully, which is something I hadn’t done for a while. Although there may be a couple of spots in the Spector version that seem a little bit over the top, mostly it’s brilliant.
First of all, the piano just sounds better in the opening. And that tantilizing little bit with the cymbals going into the second verse is mesmerizing. Ringo is the greatest rock drummer. He just is. And, if you haven’t paid attention to this part, go back and do so. That really grabs my attention and gets me hooked into the song. This arrangement has the song building and becoming a sort of animated entity. The horns are dramatic and it works here. There is a texture to all of it that, for me, creates a visual image of the various parts.
Then comes George’s guitar solo, and the whole thing is soaring. And this isn’t the contrived little ditty on the film or Naked. It’s George Harrison going all out on a gritty, beautiful rock’n’roll guitar lead that belongs on a record like this. The other version is good, but it’s not the best. It doesn’t sound authentic.
Ringo comes in on the verse again, this time with that tom tom, stuttering rhythm that is uniquely his. The guitar is there, and it’s a voice, a presence now that is a counter melody to Paul’s “let it be” chorus. It’s a duet between Paul and George’s guitar, and that bit seals the deal.
Listening again to the original version, I’m newly enthused about how good a recording it really is. Phil Spector has many issues about which one may wonder, but this record is something to which we should listen with wonderment.
If anything was nearly perfect on the album, and nearly is really the best we get for this last, delayed release from The Beatles, the title track is the one to take that prize. Long may it play: Let It Be? Let it be.