The Beatles, ‘The Ultimate Let It Be Companion’ (HMC 036)
Disk One – Complete Out Take Sessions: Brother Malcolm version of Let It Be – Two full takes in colour / ‘Two Of Us’ rehearsal sessions (With medley that includes Hey Good Lookin’ – Take This Hammer – Five Foot High And Rising – Bear Cat Mama – Run For Your Life – Friendship – Step Inside Love – Let It Be) / For You Blue – brand new re-edit / Newly Discovered Sound Outtake snippets – I Me Mine – Don’t Let Me Down – Two Of Us – Paul and Heather – Besame Mucho – I Told You Before – Three Cool Cats – Let It Be tk. 27 a – Two Of Us / Newly Discovered outtake snippets / From the Long And Winding Road special / Trailers etc. – Original movie trailer – theatrical version and TV version – Original slate from the 1992 restoration – Ed Sullivan’s ‘The Beatles Songbook’ – Don’t Let me Down (From ‘Imagine’ 1988 work print / Let It Be .. Naked promotion – April trailers – Japanese TV commercial – Let It Be Naked medley – November 17 texted trailer – November textless trailer – web trailer – 2013 iTunes trailer.
Disk Two – The Promos; Don’t Let me Down 1970 / Get Back 1970 / Let It Be 1970 / Two Of Us 1970 / Don’t Let me Down 1992 / Get Back 1992 / I Me Mine 1992 / For You Blue 1996 / Let It Be 1996 / Two Of Us 1996 / Get Back 2000 / Let it be 2000 / Don’t Let Me Down 1 2003 / Don’t Let Me Down 2 2003 / Get Back 1 2003 / Get Back 2 2003 / Let It Be 2003 / Two Of Us (Animated) 2003 / One After 909 2009 / Don’t Let Me Down 2015 / The Long And Winding Road 2015 – HQ Videos with native video re-dubbed; Let It Be / Two Of Us – Other promotional films utilising Get Back / Let It be Footage; Old Brown Shoe 2007 / Old Brown Show ‘Dissolving version’ / The Ballad Of John And Yoko 1969 ‘Censored version’ / The Ballad Of John and Yoko 2000.
Following their previous release of the Ron Furmaneck remastered Let It Be film (A release that divided a few opinions for it’s inordinate aspect ratio at points where it’s brilliant soundtrack was sometimes sidelined) the HMC label have unearthed another collection of ‘Get Back’ outtakes but, as we very rarely get to see, in a visual form. There have been some fantastic releases since the emergence of the odd and shoddy outtakes that appeared on VHS video in the 1980’s, the quality of which was generally debatable but obviously dependent on what branch of the generational tree you were on as to whether you got the almost screen burningly bright white and grainy image that made the most of our first glimpse of these outtakes.
Things got a little better in the DVD age as Picture Perfect’s double disk set a few lower generational edits with better sound and no degradation in quality were you not able to put your money up against this expensive Japanese release and were able to pick up one of the few European copies or maybe had to trade for burned copies.
With Apple hurriedly snapping up fragments of these sessions only to block them up in archives and release news to Rolling Stone every so often that the movie was ‘In preparation’ while all the participants on the movie swim around each other blaming someone / everyone else’s trepidation in not allowing the film to come out, HMC have done what they can and rooted through their own archives and pieced together a brilliantly, well rounded compilation designed to sit favourably next to their former LIB release.
We begin with something that’s almost old. ‘Let It Be’, the “Brother Malcolm” version that was uploaded to the internet by Revolver TV c. late 2015 has been much commented upon after multiple posts on the internet. Recorded on January the 31st, 1969, these are 2 full takes of the track, both filmed in full colour. The first take shows Macca shot from the left with George and Ringo sat to his right, black screen throughout the break between the cameras rolling and then we switch to a front view Over 8 minutes of rehearsals and, seeing at most of the outakes from these sessions have generally been traded on black and white video, it’s finally nice to see some wonderful new footage in almost perfect quality (Theres a little saturation in colour, a little tape degradation and a couple of hairs in the camera – No doubt from the thrown together carpet in there.)
The final day’s jams feature next with a good old fashioned medley of R’n’R tracks within a couple of rehearsals for ‘Two Of Us’. This rehearsal – running approximately 8 tracks – despite what it says on the cover – this good natured romp is a break to get through the tedium of working through these tracks one-last-time. All shot in black and white from B camera roll 1150 (For those of you keeping track) features panoramic views of the studio as the Beatles play, shots of the other cameras (!), coverage of Michael Lindsay Hogg and the rest of the crew. Watching it all back gives the feeling that it must have been pain to have sat there, down what the fabs could have done to relax – or rather what they were far from interested in doing those days – and having being lined up for shots so people could get your best side. Essentially penned in like pets at the shop while people dance around you peering in.
‘For You Blue’ Half colour film, half B&W, Beginning with snippets of the Fabs turning up at Saville Row all cut from different POV (Ground level and from – what I’m guessing is, first floor window.) It’s cool to see – especially if you like cars and the cars the Beatles arrived in.
‘Newly discovered sound outtake snippets’ – A collection of B&W film shorts (Some only seconds long) synched with their respective Nagra soundboard recordings. Most of these are not new specifically but will be sharper or brighter than some of the pieces in your collection. They also feature more John – There’s one for you Lennon fans – Audio is quieter than the previous shots however and some them even seem to be silent.
‘Newly discovered silent outtake snippets’ – What can you take from that title? Frustrating, as we know that HMC know exactly from where these bits are from. Without knowing exactly what’s missing on the Nagras, it’s unfair to say, ‘Well, they COULD have spliced that in) but I’m quite sure that what’s missing from these could have been shipped in.
‘From The Long And Winding Road Special‘ is exactly as it reads – We have these pieces on HMC’s previous release, ‘Long And Winding Road’ in no better or worse quality, if you missed out on that release but you’re a LIB completist, you at least have these now. Whether you’ll step back to it that often .. we’ll see ..
‘Trailers, etc.’ is a nice little addendum to the original theatrical release. Some of the earlier, original 1970 / 1980 versions are nearly unwatchable they’re that ‘watched’. The ‘Original slate from 1992 restoration’ is baffling, The snippet from Ed Sullivan’s ‘Beatles Songbook’ is a nice little nostalgic piece but might have been better placed on HMC’ earlier ‘Ed Sullivan‘ release – though, to be fair, it works just as well here, really. Ed’s bit to camera is nice and sharp, the promo’s themselves make the band look a little anaemic.
‘Don’t Let Me Down’ from the “Imagine” 1988 work print makes me wonder if theres a new release of THAT waiting in the wings for HMC – hopefully with some “Imagine” outtakes – They must be out there, right? The print that HMC use however, is just a little too bright especially as the camera pans towards the sky – There are very few bright January days in England!
Finally, for the ‘LIB .. Naked’ promotion. These appeared on plenty of DVDs after the release of the album themselves but are added here by HMC again for competency. Much improved and bushed up film footage from these sessions – Even the web-trailer and iTunes adverts look good for their transfer to DVD and leave a tantalising view in to what’s to come once Apple / Giles Martin / The Beatles and their wives take their feet off of the brakes.
Disk two features 7 ages of videos from the shoddy and nearly grim 1970’s original promos (Pleasingly with slightly too fast radio like you remember your first bootleg tapes to be) through to tighter 1992 representations (with correct but quieter audio), the 1996 variations – complete with slates – are better still by a couple of shades (Better radio too!), 2000’s upgrades get better and better with an even warmer density of colour. 2003’s versions tone the colour DOWN a bit more but get closer to the HD readiness of todays tech (In fact, of the two versions of ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, the second is comparably neater than the first and despite the slight picture judder at times, I’d be happy with this as a home video. (‘Two Of Us’s’ animated video though looks like it was dubbed off of a version of the early 1980’s video – It’s rough!)
By 2009, more meddling with the colour. It’s not as rich as 2003 (Does Ringo still own that coat for colour comparison?), the saturation is a little darker bit it’s less fuzzy looking than 2015’s ‘1’ version. Hopefully, they can scale the film up to 4K by the eventual release of the official ‘LIB’ (Tech fans, I need you to tell me that this is possible!)
‘HQ videos with native audio re-dubbed’. An interesting concept – Brushed up video and Nagra ‘unsweetened’ sound spliced together. I like it. It looks good, sounds great and should be how the film sounds when it’s released (Not that the company are going to listen to US!)
Finally, ‘Other promotional films utilising ‘Get Back / Let It Be’ footage’ is just that it says it is. Various ‘others’ from the Beatles cannon but produced after the fact using .. well, you get the point (There’s also a bit more material that comes from other sources). Completists fodder but then, if you’re buying this set, you’ve come for this haven’t you?
The TMOQ gazette is packed with new and old articles in reference to the Beatles final days of playing together in January 1969 and the dogs they recorded then. As usual HMC have devoted space in their own product to promotion of PETA, the Ron Howard film, Meatless Monday, Unicef and the Material World Charitable Foundation Ltd.
A great companion to the ‘LIB’ release from previous – ‘ultimate’, maybe not as you’ll still need your existing DVDs to be completely complete and you may not play the full set oh-so-often but you’ll enjoy this set despite that.