Music Review: The Beatles’ “Let It Be” (2009 Stereo Remaster)

Originally posted 2009-10-26 20:10:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

It is truly a testament to the outstanding talent and staying power of the Beatles that Let It Be, their final and perhaps least ambitious — by their own designs, at least — release, is composed of such an impressive assortment of tracks.

For this reason alone, the 2009 remastered version of this classic 1970 album is worth your time and money.

Held up against the previously released audio on the CDs that have been standard issue for over two decades now, this remaster is crisper and cleaner in all the right places.  To be fair, this is probably one of the less drastic remasters, as Let It Be was originally issued in actual stereo.  Still, the seasoned Beatles fan will immediately take note of the subtle improvements, such as the even warmer ambiance of the background vocals in “I Me Mine” and the clearer separation between piano notes and vocals in both “Let It Be” and “The Long and Winding Road.”

It is a joyful experience to hear the individual vocals and instrumentation as clearly as possible.  After all, when the bulk of these tracks were laid down in January 1969 — almost one and a half years before the release of the album — the keyword had been simplicity.  Following the tumultuous White Album sessions, they had decided to adopt a more “live in the studio” feel for their next album.  Paul in particular felt that they had lost the cohesion that could only come from playing live.  Considering the backbreaking schedule of live shows in their early years and the relative happiness of their early period, it is difficult to disagree.

The Beatles' "Let It Be" (1970)

The Beatles’ “Let It Be” (1970)

For this reason, as well as the fact that Let It Be was mixed, remixed, re-arranged, and shuffled around by so many people outside the Fab Four before its initial release in 1970, I think Let It Be…Naked should be and is the first and best way to experience this album.  Purists, traditionalists, and historians may disagree, but any detractors to this theory must first explain why the Beatles’ initial intentions for the concept of this album should be all but ignored in favor of the “actual” release.  Why tracks like “Maggie Mae” and “Dig It” could ever belong on the same vinyl — or silver, for that matter — disc as gems like “Two of Us,” “Across the Universe,” and “Let It Be” is beyond this writer.

Before I trample upon too much musical holy ground, I should reinforce that the 2009 remaster provides a great experience.  Some argued that the tracks should have been stripped down and entirely remixed.  While I wouldn’t have been against that idea if it had been engineered by the right team, there doesn’t seem to be the need for anything quite so drastic here.

Perhaps the focus should instead fall on the pressures within and around this record.  Within, it is interesting to consider how complicated and tense the Beatles’ interpersonal relationships had become, and yet to listen in wonder at the beautiful music they made despite it all.  Outside of the recording process, there was a great deal of expectation when the album was released, especially considering that it wasn’t available for sale until after the Beatles had announced that they were breaking up.  That put a lot of weight on this very final addition to what is arguably the greatest rock ‘n roll catalog of all time.  Even Rolling Stone fluctuated wildly, dismissing the album at its release but soon after adding it as #86 on their list of the best rock albums of all time.

Regardless of your perspective on this album, Let It Be is a strong addition to anyone’s music collection, if only for the outstanding songs it contains — and not only the singles, but many of the deep tracks, as well.

I’ll probably still click one more space lower on my iPod for Let It Be… Naked, but I have enjoyed hearing the original in remastered audio.  And make sure you watch all of our great Beatles cover songs videos here on the music video blog!

Music Review: The Beatles’ “Let It Be… Naked” (2003 Remix)

Originally posted 2009-09-14 23:50:26. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

The chart-topping success of Let It Be is truly a testament to both the heights of Beatlemania and also to the abilities of the four Beatles to consistently top themselves in their songwriting and musicianship.  Even by 1970, amid tensions that caused all four to at least threaten to quit the band, they managed to come together (no pun intended) to finish the principal tracks for a new album.

This was made easier, of course, by the fact that this new album was based primarily on material that had been written and recorded before their previous record, Abbey Road, was released.

The true complication in this process arose when Phil Spector was somehow given the “okay” to add his signature studio treatment to the tracks.  Perhaps with the disagreements between the Fab Four obscuring their collective vision, Spector was allowed to turn these songs — many of them little gems — into overblown, overproduced testaments to the capabilities of a mixing board.  Orchestras aside, the original concept of this album (at least, when it was begun in January 1969) was that there would be no overdubs of any kind.  How the leap was taken from “no overdubs” to “here’s Phil Spector” is a subject of some debate.  The result?  An album that made many fans and sources close to the band wonder what it would have been like without all the accessorizing.

Let It Be… Naked puts an end to that inquiry.

The cover of the 2003 remix of "Let It Be"

The cover of the 2003 remix of “Let It Be”

As the title implies, Naked is a stripped-down, bare bones version of Let It Be that highlights the instruments and original vocals of the four Beatles which, not surprisingly, is more than enough to excite and entertain.  Ringo once pointed out that, despite all their issues and arguments, when the count began and a song was performed live, they transformed back into those four boys from Liverpool who just loved to play music together.  For anyone who thought that may have been an overstatement, this new take on their final album is the proof of its veracity.

Throughout Let It Be… Naked, the Beatles’ harmonies are tight and their instrumentation is simple yet impressive.  The drums and bass are particularly fun to focus on, perhaps imagining Ringo and Paul falling perfectly into the rhythm and putting all their combined experience, personal talent, and emotion into what would be these final released tracks.  Of course, John and George are just as much fun to listen to.  George’s guitar work, for instance, clearly never needed to be and never should have been buried beneath layers of production and overdubs.

Even the track listing is rearranged on this 2003 remix of the album, tossing out “Dig It” and “Maggie Mae,” as well as adding “Don’t Let Me Down,” a track that had made the cut on the earlier Glyn Johns mix of the album, before the project was shelved.  This is hardly a revelation — I don’t imagine many will miss the two deleted tracks and the album is certainly much better for the inclusion of the latter.

In every conceivable way, Let It Be… Naked is a success and finally presents the album as originally intended, making it a must-listen for any Beatles fan as well as any fan of rock music who is interested in hearing the real story of the final album of this legendary band.

COMING LATER THIS WEEK:  In addition to our regular Beatles cover songs, a review of the new Let It Be 2009 remaster.  How does it compare?…

“You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” (Beatles Cover)

Originally posted 2009-09-28 22:52:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For Beatles chords & lyrics, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

Hello and welcome to my first traditional “video and a post” Laptop Session in weeks!  For the past few posts, I’ve opted to write reviews, but now its back to Beatles cover songs for me!  This was actually a lot of fun, but I don’t get to write as directly and personally as I do in a post like this one.  Thus, I’m back with a guitar, recording my first cover song music video since “God’s Gonna Cut You Down.” Let’s just say it’s good to be “back”!

You’ve probably already noticed that the Laptop Sessions main page has suddenly been filled with “chords & lyrics” posts.  Let me start by explaining these four new additions to the blog.

First, the Beatles chords (for “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”) are obviously meant to accompany this post.  If you enjoy it, then by all means, jump in and start playing it yourself.  Actually, you might want to read the rest of my post before you break out your axe…

So, why the added chords and lyrics?

Well, I’ve been itching to record a cover version of a track from the new Pearl Jam album Backspacer ever since I started listening to it last Sunday.  Specifically, there are two largely acoustic tracks that are very easily translatable into acoustic music videos — namely, “Just Breathe” and “The End.”  The first single, “The Fixer,” is more of a full-band, harder rock affair, but its structure is fairly simple and it is truly a great deal of fun to sing.  I’m still deciding which song to record for my session (anyone care to hazard a guess before next week?).

Now, normally I would wait until next Monday to post the chords, but I’ve been learning/practicing all three and going out of my mind attempting to comprehend how anyone could post the chords and lyrics without having even the slightest idea as to what the correct words are.  This, in fact, is one of the most profoundly aggravating aspects of the decline of CD’s, at least in my mind — people who download digitally do not necessarily get a booklet, and even if they do, do not necessarily take the time to read the liner notes and lyrics.  Has music really become that abundant and easily accessible that we couldn’t care less what the singer is actually saying, or what the album as a whole is actually about?  This is the feeling I get when I surf the web for chords and lyrics.

This is also why I enjoy spending time in CD stores like Newbury Comics or — as I visited today — Exile on Main Street.  It’s a good feeling to see albums that you had forgotten about, never actually seen in person, or perhaps never even heard of before.  I left today with my hands covered in a thin layer of dust, having purchased an album that had collected a considerable amount of that aforementioned dust — the Charlie Sexton Sextet’s Under the Wishing Tree.  (Sexton played with Dylan for a few years, left the band a while back, and just recently rejoined — he was perhaps my favorite guitarist that I’ve seen in Dylan’s band, so I had to check it out.  More to come after I’ve listened more closely to the album…)

After all this posting, I suppose I should actually take a few moments to address the video you’re about to watch…

Following Jeff’s excellent rendition of “Yesterday” last Thumpin’ Thursday, I decided I couldn’t let the Beatles marathon slip away on my watch.  I had been planning to record a Pearl Jam song (as I mentioned earlier), so I opted instead to record a Beatles song that had been sung by Eddie Vedder in a cover version a few years back.  “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” is the third track from the Beatles’ excellent 1965 album Help! — Nicole’s favorite Beatles album.  Thankfully, I was able to borrow her copy of the 2009 remastered version of Help! and ensure that I was more than prepared to record this great song.

The video that follows is a perfect example of what seems like a short, simple song but is in actuality a little gem.  To me, this song exemplifies how the Beatles really aren’t overrated — even with a simple verse-verse-chorus-repeat-fade song, Lennon and McCartney had to throw in some interesting chords and variations.  It’s not simply G or C that you’re hearing — instead, my underworked and not-so-dexterous pinky finger was called into play to make the song sound entirely accurate.  Even as I type, my hand is still recovering from the workout!  Overall, I’m very pleased with how the recording came out, even if my lips ended up a bit dry and thus led to a few flubs during my “vocal flute” solo at the outro.  I hope you can forgive the slight inaccuracies and enjoy this great Lennon/McCartney classic!

Oh, as a quick “P.S.,” I should mention that my review of the 2009 remaster of Let It Be really will be coming eventually.  My internet was a bit screwy last week and I lost all my progress, so I put it aside temporarily.

It’s been a great Yom Kippur (see my Twitter posts above), and although it’s back to school for me tomorrow, I still have another surprise up my sleeve for later this week.  That is, if my internet connection can hold steady…

See you next session!

“This Is Love” (George Harrison Cover)

Originally posted 2008-02-12 19:37:03. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Hello all, and welcome to another edition of the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover songs music video blog! It’s me, Jim Fusco, back here again with another cover song video.

This one is from one of my favorite albums ever- “Cloud 9” by George Harrison. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but something about the albums from this late-80s period is just so great to me. It’s probably because I grew up listening to them and it’s nice to think of a time I was alive AND people like George Harrison were still really popular. Plus, I think listening to rock music at such an early age (I was three years old when “Cloud Nine” came out) like this really sticks with you. There have been some songs that I heard back in the late 80s and I haven’t really listened to since. When I finally hear them again, somehow I know all the words! It’s really incredible to think that those lyrics stuck with me over all those years and that I learned them when I was so young. I guess that’s why they try to teach a second language to kids that are under ten years old- it really does stay with you! Of course, instead of a foreign language, I learned a ton of rock music lyrics. :-)

For my iTunes, I have a song rating system I devised. Basically, it’s a way of sorting through all of my music and categorizing the ones I truly love. It also helps me weed-out all the songs I don’t like but have in my music library just to complete an album. Anyway, my 5-star songs are my favorite songs of all time- these are the classics like “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys and “You Just May Be the One” by the Monkees that I just can’t live without. The next category down, 4-stars, is for songs that, when they come on, I say to myself, “Oh man, I love this song.” This category is reserved for songs that make my eyes widen and my ears perk up as soon as the first chords kick in. “This Is Love” by George Harrison is one of those songs. As soon as the song starts, you’re hooked in- the great chord progression and the wonderful late-80s guitar sound get me every time. I can only hope that my acoustic cover song version I’ve done here for the music video blog does the song justice.

This song, “This Is Love”, is a classic. It’s got that unmistakable George Harrison sound. If you don’t know it, get ready to have a new favorite song, because this song has a great melody and, of course, great chords and style- George all the way! Of course, there will be many more George Harrison songs done here for the music blog in the future. I recently got into listening to all of his solo albums and was blown-away…no pun to another George Harrison song… In the meantime, I hope you enjoy today’s video and will come back for more great cover songs from The Laptop Sessions music blog!