Friday, May 8, 2009

39 Years Ago Today: The Beatles release 'Let It Be'

'Let It Be' is the twelfth and final studio album by the English rock band The Beatles. It was released on May 8th, 1970 by the band's Apple Records label shortly after the group's announced breakup.


Most of 'Let It Be' was recorded in January 1969, before the recording and release of the album Abbey Road. For this reason, some critics and fans, such as Mark Lewisohn, argue that 'Abbey Road' should really be considered the group's final album and 'Let It Be' the penultimate. 'Let It Be' was originally intended to be released prior to 'Abbey Road' at some point during mid-1969 under the title Get Back but the Beatles were unhappy with this version of the album, which was mixed and compiled by Glyn Johns, and it was temporarily shelved. A new version of the album was created from the studio tapes by Phil Spector in 1970 and then finally released as 'Let It Be'.

The album acts as a soundtrack album for the 1970 motion picture of the same name, which is a documentary film of the band rehearsing and recording the album. While two songs from the sessions were released as singles prior to this album's release, "Get Back" and "Let It Be", the songs were remixed by Spector for release on this album.

The rehearsals and recording sessions for the album did not run smoothly due to the increasing level of acrimony between the four Beatles. The group bickered and argued throughout the album's production. George Harrison, at one point during the rehearsals, walked out and quit the group after severely arguing with both Paul McCartney and John Lennon, only to be coaxed back some days later. The film version is famous for showcasing a number of conflicts between the group members and has frequently been referred to as a documentary intended to show the making of an album but instead showing "the break-up of a band".

Critical and fan reaction to the album on its release was fairly negative. Opinion on the album today is largely divided, though most critics appear to regard 'Let it Be' as weaker than most of the Beatles' previous works. Despite receiving a largely negative review from Rolling Stone magazine at the time of its release, the album was later ranked number 86 in the magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time in 2003.

Suggested listening:

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