Tag Archives: Let It Be Naked

The Last Beatles Concert ► Monday Musical Appreciation

It was 48 years ago today when The Beatles gave their last live performance, although no one knew that at the time. It’s come down through history known as The Rooftop Concert.

John, Paul, George, and Ringo — at that point the most famous musicians in the world — had been filming the recording of their ‘back to basics’ LP, that was supposed to do away with overdubs and studio trickery. The idea of a movie started out as a tee vee documentary ending with a live concert, before it morphed into a major motion picture.

Originally the album was to have been called “Get Back,” but was eventually released as “Let It Be,” the same name as the eventual movie and the biggest hit on the soundtrack.

The recording sessions were fraught with tension, with the Beatles bickering with each other.  Even the level-headed and Transcendental Meditationizer Harrison had enough. He also quit the band for a period. When he returned he did so with Billy Preston to play keyboards, correctly guessing that the presence of a musician they all respected would cut down on the fighting.

According to the WikiWackyWoo:

Harrison recalled that when Preston joined them, “straight away there was 100% improvement in the vibe in the room. Having this fifth person was just enough to cut the ice that we’d created among ourselves.”[14]

While most of the bickering was left on the cutting room floor, this clip was left in the final cut of the movie:

They were stumped for a location for the ending of the movie. The documentary was always going to end with a live show, but they were stumped where to hold it. Suggestions ranged from an ocean liner, to the pyramids, to Pompeii. However, logistically those shows would have been difficult. At almost the last minute, as time was ticking away before Ringo had to start filming The Magic Christian, the decision was made to perform on the rooftop of Apple Corps, the Beatles’ own building on tony Savile Row.

The 42 minute concert was the last time The Beatles played for an audience. However, they would go on to record one more LP, Abbey Road, actually released before the movie and Let It Be album. By the time the movie was release, The Beatles were history.

The songs performed on the roof that day were Get Back (five versions), I Want You (She’s So Heavy), Don’t Let Me Down (two versions), I’ve Got A Feeling, One After 909, Danny Boy, Dig A Pony (two versions), and God Save The Queen.

Also cut out of the movie was all of the genesis for the song that eventually became Get Back. It started off much differently than the song you hear now and could NEVER have been released in this form:

The Beatles have been criticized for these 2 songs once bootlegs started to appear, but it’s clearly a protest song of sorts, condemning the racism that they had been seeing at home. It’s just not a very subtle character study, like Elanor Rigby, f’rinstance.

Ironically, the session tapes of Let It Be were eventually given to Phil Spector, who laid all kinds of overdubs on the songs. This appalled Paul McCartney, who had been outvoted. Eventually, in 2003, Let It Be… Naked was released, without all the sweetening in a form that McCartney could live with.

The movie Let It Be was briefly available to purchase on VHS, Betamax, or LaserDisc, however the 1981 release was the first and last time it was available legally. There are reports that the entire movie was remastered by Apple in 1992. Apparently there was another remastering in 2003, including outtakes and bonus material, that was to have been released with the Naked CD, but that never happened either.

“Some people say” it’s Paul who has held off release of the movie because he comes off looking like a dick. The Wiki has something to say about that, too:

In February 2007, Apple CorpsNeil Aspinall said, “The film was so controversial when it first came out. When we got halfway through restoring it, we looked at the outtakes and realised: this stuff is still controversial. It raised a lot of old issues.”[43]

An anonymous industry source told the Daily Express in July 2008 that, according to Apple insiders, McCartney and Starr blocked the release of the film on DVD. The two were concerned about the effect on the band’s “global brand … if the public sees the darker side of the story. Neither Paul nor Ringo would feel comfortable publicising a film showing the Beatles getting on each other’s nerves … There’s all sorts of extra footage showing more squabbles but it’s questionable if the film will ever see a reissue during Paul and Ringo’s lifetime.”[44] However, in 2016, McCartney stated he doesn’t oppose an official release, stating, “I keep bringing it up, and everyone goes, ‘Yeah, we should do that.’ The objection should be me. I don’t come off well.”[45]

Maybe one day we’ll finally get to see this movie again. Until then, enjoy some bootleg recordings of the Rooftop Concert while they’re still on the YouTubery.


Day In History ► May 7 ► The Beatles’ Last U.S. Single

Dateline 1970 – The Beatles released “The Long and Winding Road” on
this day. It would turn out to be the last single The Beatles ever released in ‘Merka.
A month earlier, on April 10th, Paul McCartney, citing “personal,
business and musical differences” announced he was leaving The Beatles. Ten
days later he released his first solo LP “McCartney” (recently re-released with
bonus tracks) and four days after that Ringo Starr released his first solo LP, “Sentimental
Journey.” Therefore, “The Long and Winding
Road” had to compete with other Beatles on the ‘Merkin

The backstory to “The Long and Winding Road” is worth repeating. When
The Beatles set out to record “Let It Be,” Paul’s big idea was to do a Back to
Basics album and “Making of…” documentary, without all the lush orchestrations
and overdubs used on their previous LPs. It was also a way, McCartney hoped, to
bring the band back together. It was clear during the recording of “The Beatles”
(aka The White Album) that tempers were flaring. Maybe a return to the basics,
the way they did it in the old day, would prevent the band from fragmenting.
It didn’t work. The fights that occurred during the making
of “Let It Be” are legendary. George Harrison even quit the band at one point.
Later, when he agreed to come back he brought in friend Billy Preston,
hoping that might calm the waters. By the time the project was finished, no one
had the patience to deal with the hundreds of hours of tapes resultant. A
couple of test pressings and mixes were prepared by Glyn Johns, but no one was
ever happy with them. Eventually, after sitting around for a year, all the
tapes were turned over to Phil “Wall of Sound” Spector to do something with them
for release.
Meanwhile, The Beatles went into the studio one last time
and recorded “Abbey Road,”
a fitting swansong to the extraordinary—but short—recording career of The
Beatles. “Abbey Road”
was released before “Let It Be,” which became the final Beatles LP. It was
released in conjunction with the making of documentary of the same name.
When “Let It Be” was finally released it was as far from
Paul’s original concept as possible. Instead of a stripped-down, back to basics
record, Spector had smothered the tracks under strings and other overdubs. Paul
was especially derisive of his composition “The Long and Winding Road.” He was, rightfully, proud
of the song and felt Spector’s treatment ruined it.  Paul eventually had the last laugh, 33 years
later, when Let It Be…Naked, a stripped-down version like Paul had always
intended, was released. According to the WickiWackyWoo:
For “The Long
and Winding Road”, the Naked producers used the final take, recorded five
days after the rough run-through Phil Spector had selected for the original
album.[1] As per all songs on Let It Be… Naked, this version is devoid of any
orchestral or choral overdubs. (The unadorned take from Let It Be is featured
on Anthology 3.) Finally, there is a slight lyrical difference: whereas the
original album version’s lyric reads, “anyway, you’ll never know the many
ways I’ve tried,” on this version it reads, “anyway, you’ve always
known the many ways I’ve tried.” Electric guitar and electric piano are
also present in this version, played respectively by Harrison and Billy
Here’s the original version as released by Phil Spector,
followed by the way it was always meant to be.

Sadly Let It Be has not been available for home video since
forever. Are you listening, Paul? Imagine the bonus features with all that film
and audio. I already own all of it on bootleg audio, but I’d pay for an
official release.
Bonus Beatles – “The Long And Winding Road” from the movie “Let
It Be.”