The idea was really a simple one, and yet quite brilliant at the same time. Paul McCartney was eager for The Beatles to play live in an attempt to bring the band back together as a unit. This new album project was given the name Get Back. They would come up with new material and rehearse on film, as a behind-the-scenes documentary. They would then perform the new material in concert, with the live recording released as the next Beatles album. Unfortunately, things did not work out as planned.
The Beatles used a soundstage at Twickenham Film Studios to begin rehearsals, and perhaps one of the most controversial and misunderstood rock albums of the 20th century began to take shape. Upon its release in May 1970, the newly-retitled Let It Be was widely seen as a step back for The Beatles.
The original film documentary (directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg) was issued alongside the album, to mixed reactions as well. Both McCartney and Ringo Starr have stated that they find the film depressing to view, as it showcases the band on the brink of dissolution.
With the release of this new boxed set five decades later, it’s time to re-evaluate the album. The 5CD/Blu-Ray Super Deluxe Edition breathes a great deal of life into the album and its checkered history. There were three different versions of the Let It Be album assembled in 1969, one of which was mixed by famed producer Glyn John, but only the third - remixed by the now-infamous Phil Spector - was approved for release, despite Paul McCartney’s well-documented protests.
In 2003, McCartney spearheaded the Let It Be...Naked project, for which the album was newly-remixed without Spector’s orchestral and choir overdubs. For this new edition, Giles Martin has been tasked with remixing the album once again. For the film component, director Peter Jackson (Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit) has been given the raw Twickenham footage to re-edit into a new documentary due for release in November.
Once again, Martin’s remix has exceeded expectations. The original album has never sounded better, and the additional material (including the original 1969 Glyn Johns mix) is simply brilliant. The music found in the set is top-notch Beatles material: “Across The Universe,” “I’ve Got A Feeling,” “Two Of Us,” and “I Me Mine” are all classics.
Perhaps the most interesting component of the set is the Blu-Ray disc, which features the original album newly remixed in 5.1 surround and Dolby Atmos. As with his 5.1 mixes for Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), The White Album (1968), and Abbey Road (1969), Martin puts the listener in the centre of the music. “Let It Be” in particular benefits from the immersive format, but the entire album sounds absolutely brilliant. “The Long and WInding Road” is another highlight, with McCartney’s vocals in the foreground and the orchestra in the rear speakers. The front-to-back balance is perfect.
The set comes beautifully packaged, with an informative book packed with never-before- seen photos. It is a remarkable reissue, with a great deal of new music for fans to discover and a new way to hear the classics. With the new remixes and the bonus material, Giles Martin has created the perfect ending to the story of The Beatles.