Nov 17: Let It Be Naked by The Beatles was released in 2003

Let It Be… Naked is a remixed and remastered version of their 1970 album Let It Be. The project was initiated by Paul McCartney, who had always felt aggrieved that Phil Spector’s production did not accurately represent the group’s “stripped-down” intentions for the original album.

Let It Be… Naked presents the songs “naked” – without Spector’s overdubs and now including the incidental studio chatter featured between most cuts of the original album. Let It Be… Naked also replaces “Dig It” and “Maggie Mae” with “Don’t Let Me Down”, originally featured as the B-side of the “Get Back” single.

Most of the songs on Let It Be… Naked, differ significantly from the original versions on Let It Be. First, they are in a different running order than the original LP. Second, all of Phil Spector’s orchestral and choral overdubs were removed, and his Wall of Sound mixing technique was not used. Additionally, all lead vocals and drums are now placed in the middle of the stereo picture, giving the album a more modernised sound and feel. Finally, all studio and rooftop dialogue from the original album was removed, resulting in a number of sharp fade-outs where dialogue had been previously audible.

Two songs that had been included on the original album—the traditional Liverpool folk song “Maggie Mae” and the improvisational piece “Dig It”—were both excised, as they “didn’t fit comfortably with the concept of a straight album. Lennon’s “Don’t Let Me Down” was added to the running order, although Naked features a composite edit of the two versions from the rooftop concert, rather than the B-side from the “Get Back” single. “I’ve Got a Feeling” was also presented in a new composite edit of its two rooftop concert takes.

“Dig a Pony” features two major fixes and edits. An off pitch note sung by Lennon in his second “because” was digitally pitch-corrected. Also, whereas the original album track featured Lennon beginning to play the song’s final guitar riff one beat too early, this version mixes the error out, leaving a clean outro.

The remixed “For You Blue” reinstates George Harrison’s original acoustic guitar track.

For “The Long and Winding Road”, the Naked producers used the final take, recorded five days after the rough run-through Phil Spector had selected for the original album. As per all songs on Let It Be… Naked, this version is devoid of any orchestral or choral overdubs. (The unadorned take from Let It Be is featured on Anthology 3.) Finally, there is a slight lyrical difference: whereas the original album version’s lyric reads, “anyway, you’ll never know the many ways I’ve tried,” on this version it reads, “anyway, you’ve always known the many ways I’ve tried.” Electric guitar and electric piano are also present in this version, played respectively by Harrison and Billy Preston.

“Across the Universe,” which dates from nearly a year before the rest of the original album was recorded, was stripped of almost all of its instrumental and vocal overdubs, leaving Lennon’s acoustic guitar and lead vocal as the song’s centrepiece, yet still retained the backwards Sitar piece as used on the original mix. This marks the first appearance of the track in its correct key as recorded, as the original “wildlife” version had been sped up and the Let It Be album version had been slowed down.

For the title track, the original take 27a was used for the bulk of the song, but two edit pieces were flown in from take 27b (the version seen and heard in the Let It Be film): namely, the guitar solo and a brief section near the end (the final “Mother Mary comes to me” bar) to fix an errant piano chord that was present on the album/single versions. Also, as per all other tracks, all orchestral and choral overdubs were removed, and Lennon’s original bass track reinstated. With the versions featured on the single, the original album, and the compilation album Anthology 3, it features the fourth version of the song’s guitar solo to be released thus far.

The cover image of the album is a monochrome negative of the original cover picture, although George Harrison’s photograph has been replaced with a new one due to the use of photographic negatives as a departure from the original Let It Be artwork’s ‘dental version’ that makes Harrison’s teeth a prominent feature and would show them as black in this new, reversed, format. George’s new photo conforms to that of the other three in that it shows him in performance, as opposed to the photo on the original sleeve.

– Hallgeir