Let It Be would have been a much better album if it was released the way it was conceived. In early 1969, The Beatles started recording what was to be a "back-to-basics" album called Get Back. The project was aborted for what would end up being their last recorded album, Abbey Road. The Beatles returned to the Get Back project in early 1970 with Phil Spector as a producer. Considering the initial concept of the album, the father of the "wall of sound" was an odd choice. Much of the work he has done on the album has been regarded as near-sacrilege.
Richie Unterberger's review in the All Music Guide, says the otherwise melodic Long and Winding Road is "ruined by Spector's heavy-handed overdubs." In Rolling Stone, John Mendelsohn declares the song a "virtually unlistenable…extravaganza of oppressive mush."
Still, an inferior Beatles album would be a triumph for nearly any other band. I Me Mine, and Across the Universe are Spector-ized, but to a lesser degree than ‘Road;’ most of the other tunes seem to have been largely left alone. Despite Spector's touches on the gospel-tinged Let It Be, it remains some of McCartney's best writing.
One after 909, a song that dates back to the band's early days, Get Back, one of The Beatles' best rockers, and I've Got a Feeling give the listener the sense that the original back-to-their-roots goal of the project had definite possibilities.
Lennon's ‘Across the Universe’ is "dreamy, childlike, and dramatic" (Mendelsohn). John and Paul pair up for some lovely harmonizing on Two of Us, "which is at once infectiously rhythmic and irresistibly lilting" (Mendelsohn).
Overall, though, one can't help but agree with Rolling Stone's Ed Ward that everyone is really waiting for the Beatles usual producer George Martin to release the album as it should have been.
- John Aizlewood (editor), Blender magazine (4/03)
- John Mendelsohn, Rolling Stone
- Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide
- Ed Ward, Rolling Stone