The Beatles’ Let It Be… Naked is a remixed and remastered version of the band’s 1970 album, Let It Be. This version of the album was released on November 17, 2003, and has sold approximately 3.2 million copies. Paul McCartney has stated that the reason for this remixed version of Let It Be was to present the album in a form that is closer to the original artistic vision, which was a return to the sound of the Beatles’ early years. Apparently, McCartney was not satisfied with Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” production style that was used on the original Let It Be. This album also comes with an additional disc titled, “Fly on the Wall.” The 22 minutes included on this disc contain song excerpts and dialogue that accumulated during the Let It Be sessions; some of the dialogue that was removed from the original album is included on the second disc.
There are a number of differences between the original Let It Be album and the Let It Be… Naked release. For the new version, two songs were removed (“Maggie Mae” and “Dig It”). John Lennon’s “Don’t Let Me Down” was included instead; however, this is a composite edit of two versions from the rooftop concert rather than the version that appeared as the B-side of the “Get Back” single. “I’ve Got a Feeling” is a new composite edit of its two rooftop concert takes. Most of the overdubs were stripped from “Across the Universe,” and the song “Let It Be” has a different guitar solo.
On Let It Be… Naked, a different take was used for “The Long and Winding Road”; the producers of this version of the album used a take that was recorded five days after the take used by Phil Spector on the original album. This version also has a slight lyric change, the orchestral and choral overdubs have been removed, and electric guitar and electric piano (played respectively by George Harrison and Billy Preston) have been added.
For “Get Back,” a different recording was used, and the framing dialogue from the studio and rooftop concert has been removed. For “Dig a Pony,” a remix of the original album version from the rooftop concert is used, and the false start and closing dialogue have been removed. “For You Blue” and “Two of Us” are remixes of the original album versions. “One After 909” is a remix of the original album version from the rooftop concert, and the impromptu rendition of “Danny Boy” has been removed. “I Me Mine” is a remixed duplicate of Phil Spector’s edit, but the orchestral overdubs have been removed. “Let It Be” is a different take that does not use Phil Spector’s orchestrations.
For me, Let It Be… Naked is a bit of a mixed bag. I agree with Paul McCartney that “The Long and Winding Road” was overproduced on the original album; the version here sounds much more “honest.” I think a song like “The Long and Winding Road” sounds much better with a simple arrangement. However, there are some of the songs where I think Spector’s production did help to strengthen them a little bit; for example, I think the version of “Get Back” on this release is lacking something without Spector’s touch.
If you’re a fan of the Beatles and have to own everything released by the band, then I would recommend purchasing this album. However, if you’re a big fan of the original Let It Be album and would rather not hear the songs tinkered with, then I would advise staying away from Let It Be… Naked.