'Let it Be' is the name of an album by Yugoslavian art group Laibach. It consists of cover versions of each of the tracks from the Beatles' 'Let it Be', with the exception of the title track. The packaging is a parody of the Beatles' original, with John, Paul, George and Ringo replaced by The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

As with Laibach's other cover projects ('Life is life', 'NATO' and 'Sympathy for the Devil' being the most famous), their version of 'Let it Be' sounds as if it has been transported forward in time from Nazi Germany circa 1938 - imagine a furiously angry Arnold Schwarzenegger intoning 'come on baby, don'bee - cold as ice!' whilst the Wehrmacht's marching band plays in the background. The vocals are spat out with a contemptuous growl, whilst the music crashes and bangs with driving percussion, frequent shouts of 'Hah!', and grinding metal guitars.

The end result is eerie, simultaneously funny and worrying. 'One after 909' is the most obviously tongue-in-cheek cover, with a hilarious guitar solo that quotes Van Halen and Deep Purple in quick succession, whilst the sinister 'I've Got a Feeling' (which sounds like Queen and appears to be sung by a stadium full of Laibach fans) segues into a fragmentary, ambient version of 'The Long and Winding Road'.

'Get Back' was originally intended by Paul McCartney as a satire of Enoch Powell's 'rivers of blood' speech attacking Britain's contemporary immigration policies; in Laibach's hands it becomes the kind of thing that might be used to inflame the audience at a Young Conservative rally. It's never obvious whether the album is a grand art statement or a fantastic joke; that Laibach chose what is generally regarded as the least essential Beatles album, one which encapsulates the disintegration of the world's finest pop group, may or may not be significant.

Half-way through there's a haunting choral version of 'Across the Universe' which, with its repeated assertion that 'nothing's gonna change my world', sounds as if it might have been the last record Hitler played as the Russians closed in on his bunker.

This is a new phase Beatles album...
essential to the content of the film, Let it Be, was that they performed live for many of the tracks; in comes the warmth and the freshness of a live performance; as reproduced for disc by Phil Spector.

-The back of the Let it Be album

Let it Be was quite a massive project when it was first conceived. Following the divisive sessions for the white album, Paul wanted to do something to help the band "get back" to the way things used to be. By this time, he was the major caretaker for The Beatles, making sure that the music stayed high quality, and that they didn't overinduldge too much (with some failures, most notably Revolution 9). The idea was to make a project, tentatively called "Get Back."

The project that he envisioned was major indeed, a four part project that would involve every major form of media. He wanted to do an album with no overdubs (something that both he and the others agreed had gotten out of hand in some cases), that could be performed live. He had loved the way that they had sounded touring, but he knew that George would hate the idea of actually returning to touring (in their original tours, a report was released in which George said that he like jellybeans, and so the group found themselves pelted by them every night, and especially George). It would be only one concert. They would write the songs, and debut them at a massive concert in an exotic location such as the Shara Desert, or maybe a cruise ship (John said, "I'm warming to do it in an asylum."). This would be accompanied by a movie, the fourth in their deal with United Artists (Magical Mystery Tour was a TV special and didn't count). In addition, there would be a book that would be released with pictures and information about the recording sessions. And of course, there would be a soundtrack album.


But, with plans these massive, it had to be scaled back. The idea of the concert was greatly scaled back, until it included just a small venue, and was eventually cancelled. The filming would also have been cancelled, if they film crew hadn't already been hired. And the idea of a book was scrapped. But, they continued recording and rehearsing, with, of all people, John being the one that kept them honest on the no overdubs policy. Eventually, they began fighting a lot, with George actually quitting (he obviously returned later) when Paul got too condescending with telling him how to play the guitar. The sessions progressed, and eventually 96 hours of recorded bickering and occasional music was caught on tape. The Beatles eventually decided to do the rooftop concert, which was about a half-hour long, stopping traffic, and freezing the band members in the cold winter air. The recordings were so full of bickering that they were abandoned. The group realized that "the dream was over" (from John Lennon's God), and they set off to make a final farewell (see Abbey Road).


Shortly after Abbey Road was completed, John Lennon gave the footage from the get back project to Phil Spector, who had helped produce a single for the Plastic Ono Band, and done a good job. John did this without telling anyone, and Phil Spector did some things that the others would never have allowed. For instance, John never particularly liked the song Let it Be, so he burrowed it between Dig It and Maggie Mae, two short joke songs that seem to mock Paul's seriousness (Dig It ends with the words "And now we'd like to do Hark the Angels Come"). Plus, he added instruments to The Long and Winding Road that have been almost universally dubbed as a travesty, the only reason that they have any redeeming value is to cover the mistakes that John made on bass while Paul was playing piano and singing. He doubled the length of I Me Mine, and made plenty of other changes without consulting the song's authors. Plus, he didn't include a Ringo song! Paul was furious when he found out what had been done, and tried to block the release. This failed, so he tried to upstage its release with his announcement that The Beatles had broken up, and with the release of his own solo album, McCartney. The film was eventually released as well, a chronicle of the group's breakup.


Track Listing:

  1. Two of Us
  2. Dig a Pony
  3. Across the Universe
  4. I Me Mine
  5. Dig It
  6. Let it Be
  7. Maggie Mae
  8. I've Got a Feeling
  9. One After 909
  10. The Long and Winding Road
  11. For You Blue
  12. Get Back


As far as the song, it was written about a dream that Paul had. This was during the tumultuous sessions for The White Album, and in this dream, his mother (Mary) had come to him telling him to simply let things be. He liked the idea, and wrote a song, something that John misinterpreted as a Catholic song. For this reason, he never really liked it. I actually like some of what Phil Spector did with this track for the album, I like the solo that he chose to put in with the accented guitar.

Instrumentation for this track:



It was recorded on January 25th, 26, and 31st, 1969; April 30th, 1969, and some additional work was done by Phil Spector on January 4th, 1970.


If you want to hear the songs from this album as they were originally, listen to them as they appear on Anthology 3.



Sources:
Revolution in the Head, by Ian Macdonald
Various things that I have read in stories about The Beatles career.

Let It Be
The Replacements, 1984, Twin/Tone Records

SIDE ONE:

SIDE TWO:

Produced by Steve Fjelstad, Paul Westerberg, and Peter Jesperson at Blackberry Way Studios, Minneapolis.

The Replacements' final studio album for the independent lable Twin/Tone, before jumping to Sire in 1985.

Rumors had once flown that the album was originally to be produced by Peter Buck of R.E.M.; however, when Buck came to Minneapolis, he found the band unready to make an album. He did, according to Westerberg, help the band arrange some of the songs, particularly "I Will Dare," on which he later played.

This is the first Mats album to feature piano, mandolin, and lap-steel guitar. Westerberg played all the instruments on "Androgynous" (piano and sandblocks), as well as "Answering Machine" (if you notice, there are no drums and only one guitar; the final percussion apparently are spoons).

This is the Mats' critical breakthrough, on which Paul Westerberg's genius truely begins to shine. From the country-flavored "I Will Dare" (a sort of Rosetta Stone for "Alt-Country"/"No Depression," channeling the guitars of groups like the Flying Burrito Bros. into the energy of punk), to the heartbreaking, soul-shaking twelve-string and lap-steel ache of "Unsatisfied," to the anthem of lonliness "Answering Machine" ("try and free a slave of ignorance / try and teach a whore about romance / how do I say I'm lonely/to an answering machine? / A message is very clean / oh, I hate your answering machine"). This is a must have for anyone who wants to understand Elliott Smith, Wilco, Pete Yorn, but also Nirvana, the Strokes, Green Day, or any other band that came post-1987.

This album is often picked as one of the greatest of the 1980s (though sometimes that goes to their next effort and first major-lable album Tim).


And this, friends, will be my final post on E2 for a long long time. Fitting that it should be this band and this album.

Adios.

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