The only Beatles
album to occasion negative, even hostile reviews, there are few other rock records as controversial as Let It Be
. First off, several facts need to be explained: although released in May 1970, this was not their final album, but was largely recorded in early 1969, way before Abbey Road
. Phil Spector
was enlisted in early 1970 to do some post-production mixing and overdubs, but he did not work with the band as a unit. And, although his use of strings has generated much criticism, by and large he left the original performances to stand as is: only "The Long and Winding Road" and (to a lesser degree) "Across the Universe" and "I Me Mine" get the Wall of Sound treatment. The main problem was that the material wasn't uniformly strong, and that the Beatles
themselves were in fairly lousy moods due to intergroup tension. All that said, the album is, on the whole, underrated, even discounting the fact that a substandard Beatles
record is better than almost any other group's best work. McCartney
in particular offers several gems: the gospel-ish "Let It Be," which has some of his best lyrics; "Get Back," one of his hardest rockers; and the melodic "The Long and Winding Road," ruined by Spector'
s heavy-handed overdubs. The folky "Two of Us," with John
harmonizing together, was also a highlight. Most of the rest of the material, by contrast, was going through the motions to some degree, although there are some good moments of straight hard rock in "I've Got a Feeling" and "Dig a Pony." As flawed and bumpy as it is, it's an album well worth having, as when the Beatles
were in top form here, they were as good as ever.