Let it Be is the twelfth and final studio album by The Beatles. Released in May of 1970, a few weeks after the band had broken up. Commercially, it was success and reached the top of the charts both in the UK and the US. Critically, it was less acclaimed than the usual Beatles masterpieces.
Nonetheless, Let it Be yielded some classic tracks like ‘I Me Mine’, ‘I’ve got a Feeling’ and of course, the title track ‘Let it Be’. On the other hand, after a couple of listens you can tell it’s a fragmented album, one that was not put together with a clear vision in mind.
The album itself represents what The Beatles had become in those last few months, disjointed and not quite in tune, but still easily capable of greatness.
The album was initially conceived by McCartney as an attempt to reinvigorate the band, a new project that could potentially lead them to doing live shows again after a few years. A project that would bring the lads back together after a difficult time since the death of their manager, Brian Epstein, 18 months earlier. A documentary crew would attend sessions to record the band and their attempts to go back to basics. The album was initially to be titled Get Back.
George Harrison would first throw a wrench into this plan, opposed to the idea of touring again he briefly left the band. A few months later, persuaded to come back, the band continued to work on an increasingly complicated production.
Finally, Phil Spector came in to ‘re-produce’ much of the album. Adding new elements that would enrage critics and McCartney in particular, for moving away for the simplistic nature that the album was set out to have. There would be one impromptu concert, on the roof of Apple Studio, of which 3 songs would be added to the final mix.
Aftermath and legacy
It’s unsurprising really that the this is how The Beatles ended. Even before recording, the band was increasingly weary of the strain of the last ten years. They weren’t twenty year olds anymore, most were approaching 30 and settling down. As I mentioned previously, they never got over the death of their manager.
This, coupled with the arduous recording sessions and growing hostility and tension within the group, led the band to split up in early 1970. Let it Be would be their final studio album.
However, many of the band would find great success later on in solo careers. Notably George Harrison, as he was proving in the final Beatles albums, he became an excellent songwriter in his own right.
Despite the band breaking up, Lennon and Harrison passing on in later years, it wasn’t the end for Let it Be. In 2003, McCartney would release, Let it Be…Naked. Getting rid of Spector’s additions and swapping a couple of songs, McCartney finally got the album he wanted. Also giving me one of my favourite Beatles songs: ‘Don’t Let Me Down’.