The Beatles, ‘Let It Be Interactions’ (Goldies GS2013CD1/2)
DISC 1 – “LET IT BE” ALBUM VARIATION 1
(MULTITRACK SEPARATION – MAIN CHANNELS MIX) TWO OF US / DIG A PONY / ACROSS THE UNIVERSE / I ME MINE / DIG IT / LET IT BE / MAGGIE MAE / I’VE GOT A FEELING / ONE AFTER 909 / THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD / FOR YOU BLUE / GET BACK / DON’T LET ME DOWN
“LET IT BE” ALBUM VARIATION 2
(MULTITRACK SEPARATION – SUB CHANNELS MIX)
TWO OF US / DIG A PONY / ACROSS THE UNIVERSE / I ME MINE / DIG IT / LET IT BE / MAGGIE MAE / I’VE GOT A FEELING / ONE AFTER 909 / THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD / FOR YOU BLUE / GET BACK / DON’T LET ME DOWN (77:37)
“LET IT BE” ALBUM VARIATION 3
(ALTERNATE VERSIONS) TWO OF US / DIG A PONY / ACROSS THE UNIVERSE / I ME MINE / DIG IT / LET IT BE / MAGGIE MAE / I’VE GOT A FEELING / ONE AFTER 909 / THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD / FOR YOU BLUE / GET BACK / DON’T LET ME DOWN
“LET IT BE” ALBUM VARIATION 4
(BACKING AND INSTRUMENTAL TRACKS)
TWO OF US / DIG A PONY / ACROSS THE UNIVERSE / I ME MINE / DIG IT / LET IT BE / I’VE GOT A FEELING / ONE AFTER 909 / THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD / FOR YOU BLUE / GET BACK / DON’T LET ME DOWN / I ME MINE (Orchestra Overdub) (77:48)
After watching the latest release by the Beatles in comparison, the original ‘Let It Be’ film now feels like standing in the rain as opposed to Peter Jackson’s ‘Get Back’ which is like wallowing, hippopotamus like in a hot tub with a barrel of biscuits.
In part down to the picture quality, somewhat down to the sound of Jackson’s team tweaking the sound and broadening the scape using Dolby Atmos, the full, unadorned compilation stands as testimony to product that was built by a fabs fan as opposed to a lobby of marketing heads – And is also what the boxed set should have been as opposed to the tightest offering that could have been cobbled together with 18 months notice.
It’s one of the graces of the set however that the new Giles Martin mixes on the bonus DVD were able to be split between their tracks and offered Goldies the chance to put out what has been supporting the Beatleg market for the past few years now. Beating the already wonderful Ron Furmanek mix from the film in to a cocked hat, the wide sound frame of the DVD allows even some of the smallest differences to be heard, the loose wafts of conversation, some of the musicianship that was covered up by some of Phil Spector’s oven-ready syrup glaze.
The four stems are split over their individual parts over two disks here – The first disk featuring both ‘main channels’ and ‘sub channels’ mixes – For main channels, see a brighter kind of refresh of the ‘Let It Be’ album – No ‘LIB Naked’ but more about the band themselves. The sub channels are more about showcasing Billy Preston as he’s further pushed in to the mix while the bass, for example is pushed down in the mix a little.
From listening to the first stems, the first thing that stands out is the immediacy of the sound – Much clearer than a Phil Spector production, sounds have textures – Witness John’s guitar on ‘Dig A Pony’, the harmonies through ‘Two Of Us’, George’s solo in the middle of ‘Let It Be’ (Alongside Ringo’s gentle time keeping) and the atmosphere of Macca screaming out in to the crisp London air on ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’. What ever Giles and Co got right on the remaster is heightened by the fact that various elements are stripped back further due to the separation of the channels. The expansion also allows material that appeared buried on the original mixes to be pushed out a little further – I heard adlibs that I’d never heard in ‘One After 909’ that appeared to have been muted before.
The second set of stems starts as the first does. As two of us doesn’t feature much Billy at all, we have the bright acoustic, fireside romp of the band running through their brotherly hug. ‘Dig A Pony’ starts to shift the gears a little, where as the band sound a little more muted, Billy’s organ rumbles alongside George’s rolling guitar accents quietly. ‘Across The Universe’ could be a John solo affair realistically, his version of ‘Yesterday’, if you will – Laden with strings and that ghostly choir, it’s pleasingly intimate – If flows well with ‘I Me Mine’, which has it’s orchestration and harmonies highlighted too – George’s guitar really swings, while the faint boogie-woogie piano takes a gentlemanly back seat.
A plus for Billy is his appearance on the short but sweet ‘Dig It’, I appreciated his groove much more after hearing it lifted from behind the guitar riffs. ‘Let It Be’ wipes the plodding bass line away and lifts the hymnal and the majesty. Even ‘Maggie May’ conjures up an extra couple of guitar notes at the end.
As always prominent through, ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’, Billy takes more of a staring role here, his vamps as sophisticated as the oven-ready noodling that he brings to the film. This translates well on to ‘One After 909’ too – The track could have been written with the piano in mind but it takes an extra set of skills to bring the flourishes and gusto to lift it to exemplary.
The extra dash it brings to both ‘Get Back’ and ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ is splendid, low swung and sexy and takes over from pretty much everything else here. It’s almost like you’re sat next to the organ on the rooftop while Billy skirts his fingers across the keys with ease.
The third stem terms itself as ‘Alternate Versions’. Without any literature to back it up with, it’s difficult to pinpoint how these tracks are different at all.
Finally the fourth set of stems do away with the vocals and are largely instrumental affairs – Stripping them of the lyrics gives so much more appreciation for these backing tracks – Sure, you’ll find yourself singing along to these backing tracks in your mind from time to time but to make a stripped back album even more bare bones is quite the achievement.
Ordinarily, these would be early takes or warm ups but these are naturally the fully fleshed out versions, built and stacked with all the muscle that the Beatles and Billy can push in – Musically, the most interesting pieces for me were ‘I Me Mine’, ‘Dig It’, ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’, ‘The Long and Winding Road’, for it’s decorative strings, ‘Get Back’ and the orchestral over dub to ‘I Me Mine’ at the end. ‘Let It Be’ however sounds like Paul is singing to you from down a well while the band and orchestra sit at the top, almost like the song is being played inside out. It’s not an unpleasant experience but it doesn’t quite work for me.
The first disk is the best reason for entertaining this set with flashes of inspiration from the second disk – Truly a great addition to the film and it’s soundtrack and a great deal of deep digging to be had from these tracks.