The history lesson “Let It Be” was intended to be a return to the Beatles’ original sound as a simple four-piece rock band. Then things changed and the live in-studio recordings were going to be made into a film. Whether it was because of creativity-daunting cameras surrounding the group, or that some of the band was too acidic, tension mounted so much that George Harrison actually quit at one point. The resulting album was a mess and the project was postponed.
The Beatles began recording “Abbey Road,” which was released before the Fab Four picked up “Let It Be” again, but the recordings needed so much help they called in Phil Spector to clean things up a bit. The result was a mess of overdubbed horns and strings, the opposite of what the Beatles wanted.
And so, years later, Paul McCartney finally decided to have it his way. “Naked” is the stripped down version of “Let It Be,” without the orchestral accompaniment. It is nice to hear the songs without the overbearing background noise. After listening to the rather deflated versions of “The Long And Winding Road” and “Get Back,” I discovered several nice guitar solos that had struggled to be heard over the blaring strings. The addition of “Don’t Let Me Down,” the replacement of two of the more sub-standard tracks from the original, and the changes in the order all help make the recording a consistent, understandable work.
Overall, the simplicity and rawness of the sound creates a closeness to the music that was not attained previously.
Even though it may be only the by-product of McCartney’s grudge against Spector for adulterating his songs, this album is worth a listen. It depicts a time when life was a creative work-in-progress and love was more than just a four-letter word. It also recalls a time when the band was all about the music.