Assistant Editor’s note: This was originally posted on September 17, 2009. The TV in this post is still the one in my living room, and I still have one HDMI input free.
Welcome to Thumpin’ Thursday! I’ve dug back in time for this week’s video, and gone to a classic song, and one of our many Beatles cover songs.
The song is “One After 909” by The Beatles, from their album “Let It Be”. I wonder if this song is in their new Rockband game? Well, if it isn’t, it perhaps should be. It’s simple, but just has a catchy, bluesy feel to it.
I first heard this song thanks to Chris, when the two of us and our friend Alberto did a show at his house. This song opened the show and it stuck with me because of how catchy it is.
When you look at the lyrics, you see it’s definitely a train story. It apparently is about a man who’s going to pick up his friend/girlfriend/wife/whatever at the train station, but the woman, who was supposed to get on 909, gets on the one after!
I ordered a new HD TV yesterday because our old box went boom on me. I was watching Sportscenter Tuesday morning and all of a sudden “BEOUUUU”, and then that was followed by the smell of electronics burning. Not good. So, I purchased a 32 inch LG LCD with a whole lotta HDMI inputs. I was a little nervous, but then I noticed my cable box has an HDMI out.
Funny thing, is last week I said to my wife “Do you think it’s time to get a new TV?”
Ok well i’ll see you next week for my next video! Toodles!
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)
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!
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”
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?…
I swear we didn’t plan this… I’m sure by now, if you’re a rock music fan, you’ve heard about the Beatles Rock Band game that’s coming out tomorrow, Wednesday, 9/9/09. Everyone in the gaming world is excited about this new release, and you better believe I am, too! You see, it’s very rare we get an official Beatles release (any more “interview” discs floating around?), and it’s great to see the Beatles music brought to a whole new generation of youngsters that are sure to fall in love with it just like the rest of us did. I’m excited about the new Rock Band video game for Playstation 3, but I’m especially excited about the entire Beatles catalog (including the collection of singles in Past Masters Volumes 1 and 2) being remastered and re-released. I’ve wanted the Beatles albums remastered for as long as I remember hearing them. The original tape transfers sound so tinny- the discs they were selling on shelves all the way up until today were made in 1986 and have just been duplicates. Go ahead- check your CDs- they all say 1986 on them! That’s back in the time where they had to tell you the “great sound quality and fidelity” you get with CDs… Anyway, as I am happy that they’ve remastered the original two-track masters of the Beatles albums, I’m a bit disappointed in two things:
First, they’re not remixed. Not to say that they weren’t mixed great for the time, especially because (next to Brian Wilson, in my personal opinion) George Martin was the best producer ever. But, now you listen to these songs and many leave a lot to be desired. Imagine if you heard some of the songs on “HELP!” without all the vocals to the right channel and the music in the left. Imagine if the drums in the early records were panned more towards center so they don’t cut through the mix (especially the tambourine). As tacky as the “Love” CD from Cirque de Soleil is, it’s still pretty cool to hear the songs in such lush stereo, as opposed to the duophonic sound that they achieved before the late 60s.
And second, there are no bonus tracks. My father is quick to point out some key missing tracks that were left off the Anthologies (“The extended version of “Dig It”!”, he always yells) and we’re left with nothing more than the albums that we’ve already bought on LP, 8-track, cassette, and original CD.
So, there’s Beatlemania in the air and I love it. It’s been WAY too long since the fervor of the Anthology series and it feels great to say, “Oh yeah, well I’m only 25 and I’ve been a fan ALL 25 years!”
Which brings me to tonight’s Beatles cover song video. Let me tell you, folks- prepare to be blown away. Along with my mystery guest Steve and other off-camera guest Chris (not Moore) (from my new cover band, the Traveling Acai Berries, also featuring Bill, who couldn’t be at the session), we play a completely effortless version of “Two of Us” from the “Let It Be” album. Chris appears on-camera in the video I’ll be posting next week, but Steve, by request of his college-age daughter who would commit social suicide if her friends found out her father was on YouTube singing Beatles songs with a 25 year old , decided that he would just show his guitar skills on camera. Actually, that’s Steve singing with me on this one, too.
And that way I described the performance: effortless. That’s what makes it different from many of my past collaborations. Whether it be getting the chords right, remembering the words, or remembering harmony parts, past duets have always been troublesome. But Steve, Chris, and I play this like we’ve been playing for years, and that’s what I love about this video. You can barely hear Chris in this video- he’s playing mandolin away from the microphone, but at times, especially late in the chorus, you can hear him plucking away. His sight reading was impressive. On next week’s video, you can definitely hear him, though. Steve’s playing is great, as he took the time to learn all those parts I don’t on guitar, which is just so great knowing that I can just sing and play rhythm. Steve reminds me a lot of my father- not only in his love for the Beatles music, but in how he can sing harmony parts without having to teach him every note. Somehow, he just knows. And that’s where this familiarity comes from- it really shows through in the video.
I sincerely hope you enjoy tonight’s performance- one’s that’s been in the works for months now. It was a lot of fun and I hope they’ll want to do more, especially when they see all the good reviews we’ll get! I’ll be back next week and hopefully I’ll be enjoying the new Beatles Rock Band game, too. I’m going to wait until Christmas for the Beatles remastered albums, though- in stereo, of course. And don’t even get me started on the new “mono” box set… Until next week!!