Tonight (March 15th) on the world famous Classic Album at Midnight on Radio Nova we’re playing The Beatles’ Let It Be.
The album is presented in full with no commercials or interruptions.
As documented in Peter Jackson’s recent series The Beatles: Get Back, Let It Be began life as a planned documentary that would be focussed around the band’s return to live music.
In January 1969 the group began rehearsing at Twickenham Studios. Tensions were high, with John Lennon in the throes of heroin addiction following Yoko Ono’s recent miscarriage. George Harrison had left for the US and returned under the condition that the band would leave Twickenham for Apple Studios. Paul McCartney took creative control, which irritated his bandmates. Harrison recruited American keyboardist Billy Preston for the sessions.
After becoming known for their musical experimentation in the studio, The Beatles wished to return to a simpler approach and so several of Let It Be’s tracks were recorded live in the studio.
On January 30th the band convened to the studio rooftop for what would become arguably the most famous live performance in rock history. The 42 minute set was ultimately cancelled by the police following noise complaints and would be the band’s final ever performance.
Three tracks from the rooftop performance – I’ve Got a Feeling, One After 909 and Dig a Pony – would make it onto the album.
The task of turning the various takes and live recordings into an album ultimately fell to American producer Phil Spector. McCartney was dissatisfied with Spector’s work, which he felt was over-produced. Lennon however credited the producer with saving the album. “He was given the shittiest load of badly recorded shit, with a lousy feeling toward it, ever,” he said. “And he made something out of it. He did a great job.”
Assembled from various studio takes and the rooftop concert, Let It Be features 12 tracks. On Side A are Two of Us; Dig a Pony; Across the Universe; I Me Mine; Dig It; Let It Be; and Maggie Mae. On Side B are I’ve Got a Feeling; One After 909; The Long and Winding Road; For You Blue; and Get Back.
Released on May 8th, 1970, Let It Be topped both the UK and US album charts, selling over four million copies Stateside. The album’s three singles – Get Back, Let It be and The Long and Winding Road – all topped the US charts, with the latter being the final Beatles song to do so. In 1971 it would win the Oscar for Best Original Song Score and the Grammy for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special.
Let It Be received some of the most negative reviews of The Beatles’ career, with NME calling it “a sad and tatty end to a musical fusion which wiped clean and drew again the face of pop.” In the years since it’s been re-evaluated as one of the key albums from what many consider the finest group to ever enter a recording studio. Rolling Stone ranks Let It Be at number 342 in its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
You can hear The Beatles draw the curtain on an unparalleled career at midnight tonight on Radio Nova. We certainly think they passed the audition.