Song Facts: The Beatles — "Let It Be" (Both Versions)

by Christopher Scapelliti
Posted May 8, 2014 at 4:50pm

Attentive Beatles fans who purchased Let It Be when it came out in May 1970 noticed something very different about the album version of the title track: The guitar solo was markedly changed from what they'd heard on the "Let It Be" single released two months earlier.

The reason was down to the producers: the 45-rpm version was produced by George Martin; the album version was produced by Phil Spector. The track began life at Apple Studios on January 31, 1969, the last day of the Get Back sessions.

It originally featured McCartney on piano and lead vocals, Harrison playing his Stratocaster through his Leslie cabinet, Lennon on Fender Bass VI, Billy Preston on organ and Ringo on drums. Lennon and Harrison provided backing vocals. On April 30, Harrison wiped his Stratocaster part, recording over it using his rosewood Telecaster, also played through his Leslie.

Nothing more was done with the track until January 4, 1970. With Let It Be finally slated for release, McCartney, Harrison and Starr began to select tracks and fix numerous problems with the performances. On this day, George Martin had McCartney replace Lennon's clumsy bass work with a new bass track. He also added new harmony vocals from Harrison and McCartney, brass, cellos, additional drums and percussion, and a new and cutting guitar solo from Harrison, played on his Les Paul, nicknamed Lucy.

This new solo and the solo from April 30, 1969, existed side by side on the eight-track master tape. When Martin mixed the song for the single, he favored the April 30 solo (although the original Strat solo from January 31, while erased on April 30, can be heard buried in the mix, perhaps from having leaked onto the track of another instrument).

Martin also placed the cello and brass overdubs lower in his mix. His version of the song clocked in at 3:52. Phil Spector did precisely the opposite for the album version, raising the cello and brass in his mix and placing Harrison's Les Paul solo from January 4, 1970, in the spotlight. (The original Strat solo can again be heard, as on the Martin mix.) Spector also extended the song's length by splicing in a third chorus of the "Let it be, let it be ... " refrain, bringing his version of the song to 4:03.

RECORDED: January 31,1969, Apple Studios; April 30, 1969, Abbey Road Studio Three; January 4, 1970, Abbey Road Studio Two

SINGLE VERSION:

ALBUM VERSION:


Add a Comment
0 Comments

Similar Guitar News

Watch Eddie Van Halen Play Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles — Video (7/9/2015)
Bassist Billy Sheehan recently appeared on Eddie Trunk’s podcast, where he revealed that Van Halen had twice invited him to join the group to replace Michael Anthony. Sheehan also noted in that interview that he has played with all the members ...
Tommy Emmanuel Picks on The Beatles: "Day Tripper"/"Lady Madonna" Medley — Video (8/17/2015)
Here's a 2013 video of Tommy Emmanuel playing his own arrangement of the Beatles' "Day Tripper" and "Lady Madonna." It's the same arrangement the acoustic-guitar master put together back in 1990, and it's the same version that appears on his 19...
The Beatles' 10 Greatest Guitar Moments (8/25/2015)
The Beatles were such talented songwriters that it’s easy to overlook the fact that their music has some great—and occasionally groundbreaking—guitar work. With that in mind, Guitar World decided to celebrate the 10 best guitar moments from the...
Song Facts: The Beatles — "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" (10/11/2015)
By the fall of 1965, the Beatles and George Martin had come to regard the recording studio as a place to experiment, think outside the box and slowly pull away from their tried-and-true formulas. On October 12 of that year, they did just that, ...
Readers' Poll: Best Rock Headphone Song Ever — "Tomorrow Never Knows" (The Beatles) Vs. "Girl Gone Bad" (Van Halen) (11/3/2015)
What, exactly, is a headphone song? The definition changes depending on who you are. For audiophiles, a headphone song—or album, for that matter—is a work that is so exquisite that it demands you listen to each beautifully recorded note under a ...
Readers' Poll: Best Rock Headphone Song Ever — "Tomorrow Never Knows" (The Beatles) Vs. "Blue Powder" (Steve Vai) (11/8/2015)
What, exactly, is a headphone song? The definition changes depending on who you are. For audiophiles, a headphone song—or album, for that matter—is a work that is so exquisite that it demands you listen to each beautifully recorded note under a ...
Keith Richards: The Beatles' 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' Was "Rubbish" (8/5/2015)
In a new interview with Esquire, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards sounds off on the Beatles, essentially calling their landmark 1967 album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, a "mishmash of rubbish." “There's not a lot of roots in th...
John Lennon and Eric Clapton Perform The Beatles' "Yer Blues" in Toronto — Video (9/14/2015)
This week in 1969—September 13, 1969, in fact—John Lennon performed at Varsity Stadium in Toronto, Canada, with a hastily assembled backing band. The band, which performed under the "Plastic Ono Band" moniker, included Eric Clapton on lead guita...
George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr Reunite to Play The Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" in 1987 — Video (7/29/2015)
As any rock fan knows, the Beatles never got back together. What you might not know is that even partial Beatles reunions and "near misses" were frustratingly rare back when such things mattered (prior to George Harrison's death in 2001). Which ...
George Harrison and Gary Moore Perform The Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" in 1992 — Video (9/27/2015)
George Harrison wasn't exactly a fan of being "on the road." After the Beatles' final tour in 1966, he toured only twice as a solo artist. Twice! There was his '74 tour of the U.S. and his '91 tour of Japan. That's it. Outside of that, Harrison...
Gabriella Quevedo Plays Fingerstyle Arrangement of The Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (8/27/2015)
Swedish guitarist Gabriella Quevedo is no stranger to GuitarWorld.com. You might remember a incredibly popular video that shows Quevedo playing the Eagles’ “Hotel California,” combining several of the song’s multiple-guitar parts in a one-guita...
Exploring John Lennon's Acoustic Guitar Technique with The Beatles — Video (10/7/2015)
In the decades since his passing, on December 8, 1980, John Lennon’s legend has continued to grow, both for his contributions to the Beatles and his accomplishments as a solo artist. Even so, he is rarely singled out for his acoustic guitar pla...
Eric Clapton Borrows The Beatles' "Day Tripper" Riff in Cover of Ray Charles' "What'd I Say" (9/22/2015)
The late Ray Charles—the great American singer, songwriter, musician and composer—was born on this date (September 23) in 1930. No, this factoid doesn't have a lot to do with guitars. It does, however, remind me of John Mayall and the Bluesbrea...
David Gilmour Covers The Beatles' "Here, There and Everywhere" (8/25/2015)
David Gilmour, who—as some of you might know—used to be a member of Pink Floyd, has premiered his new cover of the Beatles' “Here, There and Everywhere." The guitarist's faithful cover of this Revolver track will appear—exclusively—in the new i...
Listen to Kurt Cobain’s Unreleased Cover of The Beatles’ “And I Love Her” (4/21/2015)
A previously unheard recording of Kurt Cobain covering The Beatles’ “And I Love Her” acoustically has appeared online. The rough-sounding (but nonetheless magical!) recording was found during the making of the new documentary, Kurt Cobain: Mont...
George Martin Hears George Harrison's Lost Guitar Solo from The Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun" — Video (3/10/2015)
No, my fellow obsessed followers of Beatles news. This video is not new—but it wound up in my inbox today, and it's certainly worth a share. It's actually from 2012. That's when George Harrison's son, Dhani Harrison, left (in the video), Beatles...