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Category:    Home > Reviews > Rock > Pop > Experimental > Alternative > Multi-Channel Music > The Beatles - Let It Be: Super Deluxe Blu-ray/5 CD Set (1970 Anniversary Edition with Hardcover Book/Apple Records/Universal Music)

The Beatles - Let It Be: Super Deluxe Blu-ray/5 CD Set (1970 Anniversary Edition with Hardcover Book/Apple Records/Universal Music)

Sound: Dolby Atmos/B+ DTS-MA 5.1/B+ Stereo: B Extras: A- Album: B+

The Beatles not only made several hit movies, but tried a documentary and TV special. The latter two did not turn out their best albums, but they were still projects that produced some classic results. Magical Mystery Tour was the TV project where Paul McCartney wanted to be as absurd and surreal as possible, while Let It Be (1970) would be the band trying to do a paired-down project in producing their music with Michael Lindsay-Hogg films hours and hours of the sessions, et al, culminating into a documentary that was a hit in its original theatrical release.

That documentary has not been available since it was issued in the early 1980s on VHS tape and the old 12-inch LaserDisc format and some thought it might be reissued soon. Instead, Director Peter Jackson has taken all that Lindsay-Hogg footage and created a mini-series (originally, it was going to be another documentary, but they could not fit it all in a small package) and is being released in conjunction with this new Super Deluxe Blu-ray/CD edition of the actual album (which has no video in it) for the 50th Anniversary of the original album's release.

The biggest change for this project was switching producers from George Martin to someone of note who had the talent to produce a different kind of album. John Lennon (temporarily?) commented about not being happy with Martin, then changed course when they did Abbey Road. They called in Glyn Johns, but the results were not what they hoped for or totally what they were aiming for, so (with Lennon's support in particular, since they were already on the same page) got Phil Spector to remix the album fro commercial release.

The album tracks this time, both on the Blu-ray edition and 16Bit/44.1 kHz CD Disc One are:

CD 1 - Let It Be (New Stereo Mix)

  1. Two Of Us

  2. Dig A Pony

  3. Across The Universe

  4. I Me Mine

  5. Dig It

  6. Let It Be

  7. Maggie Mae

  8. I've Got A Feeling

  9. One After 909

  10. The Long And Winding Road

  11. For You Blue

  12. Get Back

CD2 - Outtake Highlights

  1. Morning Camera (Speech - mono) / Two Of Us (Take 4)

  2. Maggie Mae / Fancy My Chances With You (Mono)

  3. Can You Dig It?

  4. I Don't Know Why I'm Moaning (Speech - mono)

  5. For You Blue (Take 4)

  6. Let It Be / Please Please Me / Let It Be (Take 10)

  7. I've Got A Feeling (Take 10)

  8. Dig A Pony (Take 14)

  9. Get Back (Take 19)

  10. Like Making An Album? (Speech)

  11. One After 909 (Take 3)

  12. Don't Let Me Down (First rooftop performance)

  13. The Long And Winding Road (Take 19)

  14. Wake Up Little Susie / I Me Mine (Take 11)

CD3 - Get Back: Rehearsals and Apple Jams

  1. On The Day Shift Now (Speech - mono) / All Things Must Pass (Rehearsals - mono)

  2. Concentrate On The Sound (mono)

  3. Gimme Some Truth (Rehearsal - mono)

  4. I Me Mine (Rehearsal - mono)

  5. She Came In Through The Bathroom Window (Rehearsal)

  6. Polythene Pam (Rehearsal - mono)

  7. Octopus's Garden (Rehearsal - mono)

  8. Oh! Darling (Jam)

  9. Get Back (Take 8)

  10. The Walk (Jam)

  11. Without A Song (Jam) - Billy Preston with John and Ringo

  12. Something (Rehearsal - mono)

  13. Let It Be (Take 28)

CD4 - Get Back LP: 1969 Glyn Johns Mix

  1. One After 909

  2. I'm Ready (aka Rocker) / Save The Last Dance For Me / Don't Let Me Down

  3. Don't Let Me Down

  4. Dig A Pony

  5. I've Got A Feeling

  6. Get Back

  7. For You Blue

  8. Teddy Boy

  9. Two Of Us

  10. Maggie Mae

  11. Dig It

  12. Let It Be

  13. The Long And Winding Road

  14. Get Back (Reprise)

CD5 - Get Back EP

  1. Across The Universe (unreleased Glyn Johns 1970 mix)

  2. I Me Mine (unreleased Glyn Johns 1970 mix)

  3. Don't Let Me Down (new mix of original single version)

  4. Let It Be (new mix of original single version)

That is more bonus material than I expected and worth having, giving us an idea of where they were trying to go with the album, though note that the Let It Be... Naked version of this album that is stripped of all of Spector's work (no matter how that turned out) is not included in this set. Yes, there is that much material!

Without a doubt, Across The Universe, I Me Mine, Let It Be, The Long And Winding Road and Get Back are inarguable classics, beloved, often remade and referenced and key songs in the band's catalog, but the other songs are not bad. They just do not always have the impact, though Two Of Us is a close runner-up. Though still friends, even without seeing the Lindsay-Hogg film, the members were starting to outgrow each other a bit, had other lives, wives and more going on, so some of the feel of this album is to be expected.

However, no one could have imagined they would soon break up when the film and album, were being made. Martin wanted them to try another concept album like Sgt. Pepper's, while many thought Billy Preston might actually be allowed to join the band and that could have been a great fit and made for an interesting full studio album. Nether happened.

The result here is a project that succeeded more than failed, but even if it were considered one of the greatest albums in the history of recorded music, the brewing conflicts were unavoidable and what happened was going to happen pretty much no matter what.

Having heard this album and all of its hits since I was born, I was stunned at how great this latest restoration and all the hard work by Giles Martin and company has once again turned out. Ironically, this is now the most stunning and sonically strong version of any Phil Spector music on digital disc (and reportedly very high quality for the vinyl versions of this set) ever released. Even flawed, to hear his work at such high resolution is amazing and no matter what became of him and what he did in his life, the rest of his catalog and work deserves the same ultra-high resolution treatment, whether mono or otherwise.

At this point, The Beatles were no longer releasing their albums in mono and this is not to say that Spector could not handle stereophonic sound and that is in any way among the issues with what he did with the material for this album, but he threw in the towel on making music for a while after his masterpiece single River Deep, Mountain High with Tina Turner did not do as well in the U.S. as it had in other markets. Any further examination of all this needs a separate essay, but I still think this album is better than it sometimes gets credit for with his mixes, despite selling well since its release.

Listening to the album now, I can hear nuances you could never hear before in the music, a stage of the growing talent and maturity of all four Beatles that plays like an untold story without trying as I listened through, surprised. I hear the singing, the musicianship and like any band that, no matter what, when they get together, they will always be that band and it can never be changed.

Now for playback performance. The Blu-ray audio once again features three soundtracks: Dolby Atmos 48kHz/24bit sound, DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 96/24 sound and PCM 2.0 Stereo 96/24 sound. Unlike the Abbey Road Atmos track, this is only 48kHz and not 96, so it may not be as muscular (especially as the DTS-MA), but it still sounds good, has its moments and offer detail and openness even the DTS-MA 5.1 cannot. Across The Universe, Let It Be and The Long And Winding Road benefit most in the Atmos version, though all the tracks benefit.

I still like the DTS-MA 5.1 mixes very much and they are the overall warmest, while the PCM 2.0 96/24 stereo is fine and a bit above the CD version, but it is also for purists. The DTS and especially Atmos allow the singing and instruments to have a clarity and agelessness that goes a step beyond what we always experience with any Beatles classic. It is always like visiting the music for the first time in a way no one could have dreamed of when this music was first released and only confirms the greatness of the band that all the fans who love them knew all along.

All five of the CDs and their 16bit/44.1kHz 2.0 PCM Stereo sound is just fine and up to the CDs of the other three Beatles box sets we've covered to date.

Finally, there is another excellent, high quality, hard cover book with plenty of stills, rare items, illustrations, three opening pieces, two essays (by John Harris and Kevin Howlett (who also writes up the track-by-track pieces)) and much more. Sliding into the die cut slipcase that shows the images of the four Beatles in or out of the slide case (the paperboard, book-like Blu-ray/CD holder offers alternative images that also fit the cutouts), Paul McCartney does the Forward, Giles Martin the Introduction and Glyn Johns a priceless piece on how he got involved in the making fo the album. Images from the film footage looking the best since Lindsay-Hogg's documentary film became the only feature-length documentary feature film in cinema history to be released in (now extremely valuable) three-strip, dye-transfer, Technicolor 35mm prints.

No, that 1970 film will not be getting reissued, but this expanded set will be matched by an expanded documentary that guarantees, thanks to this great, extensive set, Let It Be gets the best chance ever to be appreciated for what the band did accomplish here and ii very much worth your time in what will turn out to be one of the greatest examinations and explorations of a major music album yet.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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