Deleted Scenes: Let it BeMarch 27, 2013
Deleted Scenes is going to be a collecion of pieces I wrote for other outlets, things that for one reason or another didn’t get published. They could be full 2,000-word articles, they could be 50-word blurbs. If I write it, it doesn’t get posted, and I think it’s good enough to publish, this is where it’ll end up.
Over the last two weeks, the good people over at popblerd.com have been posting their list of the best albums of the ’70s. It’s an interesting and fairly eclectic list, with most of the albums you’d expect and a few you might not; it’s worth checking out, even if music from the time before you were born isn’t your thing.
I wrote a few blurbs for the list, including one for Bowie’s Aladdin Sane and one for Zeppelin’s III. I also wrote one for an album that ended up in the top 10: The Beatles’ Let it Be, one of my favorite Beatles albums, not to mention the only chance for a proper Beatles album to be listed in a list of “albums of the ’70s”. My blurb wasn’t the one to get published, so here they are: a couple of thoughts on The Beatles’ final album:
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The Beatles – Let it Be (1970)
It’s no surprise, I’m sure, to see The Beatles show up on any list that they happen to be eligible for, and Let it Be was late for the ’60s by about five months, so here it is. Rarely does Let it Be make any noise as one of the best Beatles albums, because as Beatles albums go, it is uneven and unambitious. It was recorded before Abbey Road, but disagreements in its production style and the songs that were to be included kept it off of shelves until two years after it was recorded. Even as recently as ten years ago, a new version of the album was released — Let it Be…Naked — that purported to be closer to the “original version” of Let it Be.
Nobody ever follows the advice of the album’s title. Everyone seems to wish that it could be more, that it could be better than it is, largely thanks to the pedestal that everyone puts The Beatles on. Every album must be perfect, it must define its era, and if it doesn’t, the problem must be circumstance rather than the music itself.
The constant tinkering is unfortunate, because taken as it is, Let it Be is still a great album. “Across the Universe” and “Let it Be” are two of the band’s most identifiable musical statements, and for good reason; they are immediately catchy and beautifully layered pieces of music. “Get Back” is one of the best “rock ‘n roll Paul” songs The Beatles ever did, and George Harrison’s aggressively cynical “I Me Mine” is a display of his simplistic songwriting style at its best.
Sure, there are a couple of bombs on Let it Be; “Two of Us” is a pleasant throwback at best — a lousy way to open the album — and “The Long and Winding Road” is a dense, saccharine mess no matter which version you’re listening to. Still, the bright lights outshine the missteps, and while Let it Be may never be more than the sum of its parts, some of those parts are sufficiently brilliant to stand on their own.