By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
Every one of you Uncivil Revolters knows from my interviews that I like to wrap up each one with the holiest of rock ‘n’ roll questions: “Who do you prefer, the Beatles or the Rolling Stones.” Me, personally, I go with the Rolling Stones because they were true rebels who lived, breathed, smoked, banged, and snorted rock ‘n’ roll. However, the Beatles always have a special place in my heart ever since I first heard “Yellow Submarine.” On April 10, 1970, the world mourned as the Fab Four formal announced their break-up. A month later, on May 8th, they dropped their last album as a gift to their adoring fans, Let It Be. It was an album that was delightful, confusing, controversial, and genius at once. When it was first released, it got a mixed response, but I feel it got a bad rap. Produced by legendary psycho producer Phil Spector, we revisit this notorious classic with a new perspective.
We enter the first track with “Two of Us.” This is a folk rock tune that has a little bit of country flavor. Originally supposed to more guitar driven, it was reworked with acoustics where Sir Paul McCartney would handle the lead and John Lennon handled the rhythm section. This was a good call because I feel it is more personal and add substance. A song about the Lennon-McCartney partnership being tested through tensions and contracts, though it expresses their love for each other despite all that. These two harmonize together so elegantly. Next up is “Dig A Pony,” a blues rocker that is very smooth. Lennon enriches our ears with his sweet voice, while George Harrison is electric on his solo number. Ringo Starr keeps the beat very simple yet enjoyable. Billy Preston handles the electric piano that provides the song with some R&B sweetness. “Across the Universe” is one of the more recognizable songs off Let It Be. It is a psychedelic trip that dulls the senses to where you are lost in its composition. With Harrison on the tambura, McCartney on piano, Starr on the maracas and bass drum, and Lennon on acoustic, we are in complete relaxation, forgetting our worries. Most appropriate given what is happening in the world right now.
“I Me Mine” is one of my 2 favorites off this album, where Harrison takes the reigns of lead vocalist. A song that deals with Harrison’s frustrations with egos within the band, the hard rock swagger dances between heaviness and waltz-like melody. The so called “quiet Beatle” has let his voice be heard. “Dig It” is one of weirdest tracks I have ever heard. Is it a song or an interlude? I have no idea what Spector was thinking, but it was better ballsy of him and the Fab Four. We now come to the title track “Let It Be.” A gospel number that has a mixture of hard rock and orchestra pop, it was written by McCartney after he had a dream about his late mother, who told him “let it be.” This tune is a work of pure genius, and I see it now as an early example of a power ballad because of the grand guitar solo and emotional lyrics. An powerful song to its core. “Maggie Mae” is the Beatles version of traditional Liverpool folk song “Maggie May.” Meant as a joke, the group added their signature skiffle sound they developed in the 1950s, sort of a throwback to their early days.
“I’ve Got a Feeling” is another heavy blues scorcher where McCartney gives it his all on the lead vocals. His screams are an early example of how heavy metal got its blistering voice, and his bass riff is amazing. Harrison pulls out all the stops with his insane blues solo, while Preston gives it some much needed funk before there was funk. “One After 909” is one of the earliest compositions of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, with some saying it was written as early as 1957. It has a rockabilly feel that is a tribute to early American rock ‘n’ roll with amazing harmonies by the 2 legendary front men. Harrison’s eclectic solo reminds me of early Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry. A fitting tribute to the founders of rock that helped shape the Beatles. Next up is “The Long and Winding Road,” a piano ballad that features orchestral and choral overdubs provided by Spector. I feel the overdubs were too gooey, making it sound like something from Gone With the Wind. It drowns out the group a little, but at the same strange time, it gives the song a long lasting impression. I both respect and hate it. We come to another Harrison number, “For Your Blue.” A country blues love song for his then wife Patty Boyd, it is also where we hear Lennon play a lap steel guitar. The twangy sound is very catchy. Starr’s drumming has a honky-tonk feel to it, making it perfect for line dancing. We come to the end of the long and winding road with the classic “Get Back.” Another one of my personal favorites, this blues number has an amazing “bum-bum” rhythmic flow, where Lennon handles lead guitar duties and Preston plays a short solo himself on electric piano. If you had to end the final Beatles album on a high note, this song is it.
After hearing Let It Be through and through, I have concluded that while it very controversial, it is also a misunderstood work of art. The group was attempting to play together at the same time in the studio while tensions were mounting. It may have been better if George Martin was in the producer chair instead of crazy Spector, but the reclusive legend pieced together the last Beatles album that is still being dissected after 50 years. While it not my favorite Beatles record, it is an important one to listen and learn from. Though the long and winding road is over, the legacy lives on. To Paul, John, George, and Ringo, I salute you. Peace and love!
Two Of Us
Dig A Pony
Across The Universe
I Me Mine
Let It Be
I’ve Got A Feeling
One After 909
The Long And Winding Road
For You Blue
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