Friday, February 25, 2022

Steve Perry 4: Traces

It was one thing when grunge came and went between Journey albums. For the better part of twenty years, Steve Perry performed another disappearing act, emerging only to help the Chicago White Sox celebrate their 2005 World Series win. Content to let Journey hit the arena trail, that appeared to be that.
So it was very surprising when he broke his silence in 2018 for an extended press run promoting an album. Traces was said to have come together in the aftermath of his girlfriend’s death from cancer, and indeed, the bulk of the album is melancholy yet passionately delivered, and occasionally rocking. Still no dope, each song is a collaboration with a different songwriter. We don’t know how much singing, if any, he did during the decades away from the spotlight, but his voice has a layer of gravel that wasn’t always there. To his credit, he doesn’t try to hit notes he can’t reach anymore, but you kinda feel sorry for him anytime he approaches that portion of his register.
“No Erasin’” is a strong opener, a good combination of arena chords and yearning lyrics, even if a guy his age singing about back seats in cars is a little creepy these days. It effectively ends on an unresolved chord—an unsung Perry trademark—and “We’re Still Here” burbles slowly in. There’s not a lot of substance here, but his layered vocals (another trademark) carry the chorus. “Most Of All” is the first ballad, the type of thing that would normally close an album, but here it sets a tone. Written with the ubiquitous Dan Wilson, “No More Cryin’” is too slow in the verses to support the incongruous chorus, and the title is too similar to the first track, right down to the apostrophe. Slow and mildly orchestral, “In The Rain” is an improvement, with all the ingredients coming together nicely.
Right on time, “Sun Shines Grey” reminds us he can rock again, thanks to a hook from goth guitarist John 5, then “You Belong To Me” turns and slows everything down again. The subdued “So Easy To Love” is another showcase for his Sam Cooke impressions, and that’s meant in a good way. One of the more obscure Beatle covers, “I Need You” by George Harrison is taken at half speed, but it’s not exactly revelatory. Slow as it is, it only inserts a dash of rhythm before “We Fly” which would be considered an ambient piece if not for the vocals.
The Target chain of stores offered an exclusive edition of the album with five extra songs, all but the lush, orchestrated “October In New York”—considered so important it took up Side Three of the vinyl version, despite being only four minutes long—credited to only Perry as songwriter. “Angel Eyes” has pop potential, though the chords go all over the place. “Call On Me” is based on the same canned reggae rhythm as “Baby I’m A Leaving You”, though it does feature a very real telephone ringing that will have listeners of older generations hitting the rewind button. “Could We Be Somethin’ Again” is ordinary, but he actually approximates a growl over the otherwise nonsense coda. Finally, “Blue Jays Fly” provides another sad finale in case “We Fly” wasn’t enough.
Traces is good, but boy, is it a downer. We hope it did the guy some good; he was proud of it, and two years later unleashed a “stripped” selection of seven songs from the album, along with a “radio mix” of “Most Of All”. (Press reports suggested he did this to clear the decks for his next album already in progress, though we’re not holding our breath.) Subtitled Alternate Versions & Sketches, these versions are basically enhanced demos, which usually translates to no drums. He takes even more liberties with “I Need You”, but “No More Cryin’” works better in this format, while “Sun Shines Gray” retains its key riff.

Steve Perry Traces (2018)—3
Steve Perry
Traces (Alternate Versions & Sketches) (2020)—2

Friday, February 18, 2022

Robbie Robertson 7: Sinematic

Much of Robbie Robertson’s career of late has been remastering the classic Band albums for each 50th anniversary, and film work whenever Martin Scorsese calls him. For only his second solo album of the 21st century, the good news about Sinematic is that he seemed to have gotten triphop out of his system. But while he’s accepted that his voice has one trick, the half-spoken, half-leered approach doesn’t always sustain, especially since he’s given up melodies. (He fancies himself a painter, too, as depicted in the artwork crammed into the deluxe limited vinyl version of the album.)
Guest vocals feature continually, so he can rest his throat. Heard widely in the Scorsese film The Irishman, “I Hear You Paint Houses” is sung as a near-duet with Van Morrison, Robbie apparently not caring that his voice is the palest comparison to Richard Manuel’s. “Once Were Brothers” also happens to the title of Robbie’s latest retelling of the Band saga, this time for a documentary; here he’s joined by Citizen Cope. “Dead End Kid” smolders nicely, but takes off once Glen Hansard (famous from musical films The Commitments and Once) adds his counterpoint vocals. “Hardwired” also sports a promising intro, but descends into a one-chord riff. “Walk In Beauty Way” features the cooing voice of Laura Satterfield, niece of Rita Coolidge, and Robbie responds nicely in his verses when he’s not sounding lecherous. Beginning with a riff based on “Smokestack Lightning”, “Let Love Reign” has a chorus hook right out of Fleetwood Mac, and not the blues version of the band, and uses Hansard less effectively. The shout-out to John Lennon is oddly placed too.
“Shanghai Blues” returns to gangster territory with questionable lyrics, but “Wandering Souls” is a, yes, cinematic instrumental that shows how well he and Daniel Lanois were suited for each other. In many ways, it has us wishing more of the music was strictly instrumental. More criminal activity pervades “Street Serenade”, but it’s a more interesting track overall. Unfortunately, Howie B shows up to put his burbling synths and vocal grunts on “The Shadow”, a not-very-mysterious celebration of the old-time radio crimefighter. “Beautiful Madness” also starts as a decent track, but he puts way too much emphasis on his ordinary lyrics, though some swagger returns on “Praying For Rain”, with a little of the spirit of Storyville. “Remembrance” is the other song included from the credits of The Irishman, and features Derek Trucks on guitar in duet with Frédéric Yonnet’s harmonica.
There is a cohesion throughout Sinematic, and it’s a sonically lush album. It’s just too bad he’s singing all over it. Any of these tracks would be a highlight on another singer’s record.

Robbie Robertson Sinematic (2019)—

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Eric Clapton 3: In Concert

The Layla album was definitely a case of lightning in a bottle. Attempts at a follow-up Derek and the Dominos album didn’t get too far, partially because of various addictions, the absence of Duane Allman, and Clapton’s refusal to keep working with Jim Gordon. Carl Radle went on to work with Leon Russell, and Bobby Whitlock got tired of waiting for Eric to make music with him.
His record company, of course, was happy to keep their golden boy on the racks, starting with 1972’s The History Of Eric Clapton, which compiled a chronological journey through tracks from his days with the Yardbirds, John Mayall, Cream, Blind Faith, Delaney & Bonnie, and the two solo albums. Rarities included the single version of “Tell The Truth” and a jam of same from the Layla sessions, plus off tracks with Jimmy Page, Steve Winwood, and King Curtis.
A reissue of “Layla” as a single boosted sales of its parent album, so in the absence of a studio release, a double live album engineered by Eddie Kramer at the Fillmore East in October 1970, just before Layla’s release, became the second Derek and the Dominos album. While it may seem like a quick cash-in, it’s actually a decent record. Without Duane in the room, and in contrast to the crowded stages with Delaney & Bonnie and Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs & Englishmen, the quartet leans on economy and delivers. They were all pros, after all. Because they can, each track leads to soloing and more soloing; most exceed eight minutes.
An extended drum groove with only the slightest accents from the other band members turns into “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad”. The extreme stereo separation has Bobby’s vocal and organ on the left and Eric on the right, with Carl and Jim bouncing in the middle, and it’s a crisp mix. “Got To Get Better In A Little While” would have been featured on their second album if they’d finished it, but here it’s a 14-minute boogie with some energetic piano and plenty of wah-wah.
Rather than recycle the Layla album wholesale, the band touches on earlier Clapton showcases. “Let It Rain” cascades for over 17 minutes, though a third of that is the drum solo. The crowd goes wild. “Presence Of The Lord” was sung by Steve Winwood on the Blind Faith album, but Eric strains to reach the notes here. Bobby harmonizes here and there, which helps. “Tell The Truth” doesn’t have the drive of the album version, and much of it is a jam on a single chord, but Bobby is a better vocal foil on “Bottle Of Red Wine”.
“Roll It Over” would have only been known to those who’d found the swiftly deleted single from a few months before; this is a decent performance and worthy of release. “Blues Power” has another moody intro the belies the boogie that follows, but the band navigates the stops and starts well and Eric’s fast chordal riffing propels the tune over the too-long ending. When it finally does, it’s right into the much slower “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” for plenty of fretwork.
In the digital era, the album was mostly ignored, possibly because of Clapton’s own disinterest. But some twenty years after its original release, after Eric had experienced more than a few comebacks along with the runaway success of his Unplugged special and album, his old label compiled an upgrade of sorts as Live At The Fillmore. Six of the songs from In Concert were repeated in a new sequence, interspersed with two tracks repeated from Clapton’s Crossroads box set and five performances appearing for the first time. Different versions of “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad”, “Tell The Truth”, and “Let It Rain” provide different perspectives, while “Crossroads”, “Key To The Highway”, and “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out” go deeper into the blues. “Little Wing” gains poignancy due to Jimi Hendrix’s death a month before. The liner notes kindly noted which of the two shows used spawned each track, though Anthony DeCurtis should have known how to spell Delaney Bramlett’s first name. Photos from the actual shows are nice too.

Derek & The Dominos In Concert (1973)—
Derek and the Dominos
Live At The Fillmore (1994)—

Friday, February 11, 2022

David Bowie 47: Toy

The idea apparently stemmed from his VH1 Storytellers appearance in 1999, which featured a terrific performance of his early single “Can’t Help Thinking About Me” following a self-deprecating setup. Bowie soon set to revisiting songs from the same early period, and thus Toy was born.
Consisting almost entirely of re-arranged originals that dated to the mid-‘60s and his late teens, the album was recorded relatively quickly in early 2000 with his touring band, but was mostly shelved when the label couldn’t release it quickly enough and he moved on to writing new songs. (Plus, his daughter was born in August, so that was another distraction.) Having become old news, some of the tracks were doled out as B-sides or web exclusives until the legend of the “lost Bowie album” took over.
Over twenty years later, it’s finally been added to the canon. The sequence here is different from that which had been leaked ten years before, both in sequence and content. That leak lacked “Karma Man” and “Can’t Help Thinking About Me” but included “Liza Jane” and “In The Heat Of The Morning”, plus “Afraid” and “Uncle Floyd”, both of which would be revised for Heathen (the latter as “Slip Away”; hopefully the original mix will get wide release someday).
Most songs are longer and taken at a different pace than the originals—many of which were well below the standard for which he’d become legendary—with varying success. Beginning with a riff that predicts “I’d Rather Be High” twelve years away, “I Dig Everything” rocks with welcome guitars, also setting the pace with cooing vocals from Holly Palmer and Emm Gryner. “You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving Me” is even stronger, and possibly the best demonstration of transforming this music. An astute harbinger of the mod angst personified in Quadrophenia, “The London Boys” is delivered in his trademark Cockney, which isn’t always convincing, and the lecture is gender-neutral. “Karma Man” sports a prominent harpsichord, the album’s only real nod to the vintage of the songs. “Conversation Piece” was already the wonderful B-side to the first version of “The Prettiest Star”, familiar from multiple reissues of Space Oddity, and just as melancholy here, but the real find is “Shadow Man”. A previously unreleased outtake from the Hunky Dory/Ziggy era, the yearning vocal and melody inject much more emotion into whatever the lyrics mean. (The original 1971 version was made available on a digital streaming alongside Toy’s release.)
Pinned to a twangy 12-string, “Let Me Sleep Beside You” was also widely previewed on the Nothing Has Changed set, and a favorite of producer Tony Visconti. It starts out ordinary, but Bowie makes it work. “Hole In The Ground” is curious, as the only known version was a very primitive demo with John Hutchinson from 1969; here it’s a groovy stomper with little concern for lyrics or plot. The lyrics for “Baby Loves That Way” have not aged well, but the slowed-down plod is a good showcase for Mike Garson’s simple piano and a mountain fiddle sawed by Lisa Germano. The Cockney returns on “Can’t Help Thinking About Me”, and despite his opinion of it, it’s a great track. “Silly Boy Blue” is closest to its original recording, only a tad slower and with the recorder from “Hole In The Ground” on the choruses and “I Am The Walrus”-style “whoo!” interjections on one of the middle ones. Finally, “Your Turn To Drive” becomes the subtitle for what is now the title track, and a fresh way to sum up the project.
Had it come out when it did, Toy would have likely washed away the confusion of ‘hours…’, but likely not lessen Heathen in the slightest. But if that’s the cover art he fully intended to use? He would have scared the crap out of people.
Including it in the Brilliant Adventure box set was nice enough, but the estate went further with a special release designed to commemorate his 75th birthday. Toy:Box added two further discs of material related to the project. A wise idea might have been to include the original recordings for comparison, but instead, disc two offered negligibly alternate mixes of all the 2000 versions save “Karma Man”. Here, “London Boys” sports an even more unfortunate string arrangement that quotes two of the opening chords of “Changes”, while the “Tibet version” of “Silly Boy Blue” is supposedly a re-recording with Moby on guitar and Philip Glass on piano for a 2001 benefit concert. Two additional songs from the sessions are included on this disc, said to have been considered as potential B-sides. “Liza Jane” (which had been his first recorded single, back in 1964) is now delivered in a dirty strut with distorted vocal, while a wisely abandoned “In The Heat Of The Morning” taken an octave down is thoroughly unconvincing. (Its placement taints the alternate mix of “Conversation Piece” that follows, delivered in the same tone.)
The similarly extraneous third disc is part of a continuing trend wherein modern technology is used to transform Bowie tracks that didn’t need it. These “Unplugged & Somewhat Slightly Electric” mixes of the album boost the acoustic guitars added to each track during the mixing process, with much of the other instrumentation stripped away, led by one of “In The Heat Of The Morning”. (They must have known there was no point to deconstructing “Liza Jane”.) These mixes are occasionally nice, but a little indulgent, and considering how incredible Sterling Campbell’s drums sound on the first disc, they’re sorely missed when they’re not there. That said, “Shadow Man” remains gorgeous, and “Baby Loves That Way” includes some dialogue from Lisa Germano asking for more volume for her overdub.

David Bowie Toy (2022)—3

Friday, February 4, 2022

Beatles Get Back 24: Let It Be

[Note: As a bonus to our commentary on the Jackson edit, herewith is a commentary on Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s original Let It Be film as released in May 1970.]

The opening shot is of the distinctive Beatles logo on Ringo’s bass drum head. Mal and Kevin move various pieces of equipment into place on the Twickenham soundstage, then we hear the sound of an almost classical-style piano piece. We cut to Paul sitting behind the Blüthner piano, presumably playing it, while Ringo observes from the side. A half-eaten Granny Smith apple sits atop the piano. After a moment George joins Ringo, and they silently acknowledge the camera, then pull in close for a cheesy smile.
There’s an abrupt cut to John singing “Don’t Let Me Down”, followed by a long shot of Yoko admiring him. The song sounds pretty together, but there’s a snippet where Paul suggests they work on the “corny” part until they get, referring to the “I’m in love for the first time” segment that thankfully resisted his answer vocal idea.
Then it’s a cut to Paul teaching the chords to “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”, one of several songs viewers would have recognized from the Abbey Road album. His method is to sing the names of the chords to the melody of the verses, which is an effective way to learn it. Suddenly he’s at the piano and George has switched to the six-string bass, while Mal clangs his anvil, in and out of sync with the sound.
About a minute of screen time is devoted to George’s issues with getting electric shocks from his dual microphone setup, then it’s a cut to the second verse of an uptempo electric run through “Two Of Us”, with Paul and John standing and sharing the same microphone. It’s a fun performance, as they garble the same words, and Paul does his Elvis bit while John postures with his guitar on the bridge. Yoko is seen for a few seconds hovering to the side behind some flowers. (The repeat of the “on our way back home” as a coda makes this one of our favorite outtakes.)
After this ends, we cut to the second half of “I’ve Got A Feeling” where Paul and John sign their verses simultaneously, George Martin watching from the piano bench. It’s clear that during John’s last “oh yeah”s that the audio is from a different performance from the visuals. Paul then has them work on the “middle 8” of the song, which is to culminate with the descending guitar notes. Here he seems to be trying to teach it to John, and the film cuts to another runthrough, this time with Paul standing. John delivers his quip about pot-smoking FBI members, and Yoko giggles silently.
A cut to Paul trying out “Oh! Darling” on the piano moves to a conversation about early Lennon-McCartney songs. Paul sings a snippet of “Just Fun”, then comments on what he felt were the sub-par lyrics to “One After 909”. This cuts to a chopped-up band performance of same.
Ringo greets Paul at the piano (obviously on a different day) and they go into their three-hand boogie piece, to be copyrighted as “I Bought A Piano The Other Day”. Then it’s a quick cut to another electric rehearsal of “Two Of Us”, which seemingly breaks down because John isn’t singing loudly enough. This leads to a discussion about how to approach the middle section, ending with George stating “I’ll play whatever you want me to play, or I won’t play at all… Whatever it is that will please you, I’ll do it.” John counters with wishing he could hear the tapes of what they’re doing, as they would in a real studio setting, but Paul is noodling on his bass while John is talking, so it appears he’s barely listening. John plays the intro for “Across The Universe”, to which Paul harmonizes before the band comes in for the verse. After the chorus, they’re in the same spots but the song is now “Dig A Pony”. John gets bored at the start of the second verse, and asks if they know any fast ones. This cuts halfway into “Suzy Parker”, Paul and George “singing” the piano triplets simultaneously.
There’s another sharp edit to George demonstrating “I Me Mine”, dropping an F-bomb into a film that will be rated G. A cut to the unused flamenco break is illustrated by John and Yoko in a passionate embrace, then waltzing while the other three play the song. As it ends, the screen fades to black with a curtain effect from both sides. We are 23 minutes in.
The “curtains” open on the Apple plaque, then pull back to the street as we see each Beatle arrive separately at the Apple building while “For You Blue” plays, then we see George singing on the actual take. Once again the visuals, this time of Paul’s piano part, do not match the audio.
John’s “I dig a pygmy” announcement is followed by a snatch of “Da Doo Ron Ron”, then Paul enthuses about the home movies he was watching from their Rishikesh adventure, ending in them chuckling over John’s hope that the Maharishi would “slip [him] the ‘answer’.” This makes an interesting preface to an extremely Ricky Ricardo-style “Besame Mucho”.
Then we see George helping Ringo work on “Octopus’s Garden”. George Martin leans over in encouragement, and John finds his way behind the drumkit to start a beat while lighting a cigarette. Paul arrives with Linda and Heather, who first wanders behind the kit, then we see her next to Paul at the microphone over the piano. He puts her down and she goes to play with Ringo, who’s now at the drums.
A cover of “You Really Got A Hold On Me” develops, with three-part harmony and Billy at the Lowrey organ (with bottles of Dr Pepper on top?) situated next to George and behind Paul at the piano. A bossa nova goof on “The Long And Winding Road” is seemingly enjoyed by those present before Paul cuts it off for a more straight reading, which he immediately hams up. Much more energy is given to a medley of “Rip It Up”, “Shake, Rattle And Roll”, “Kansas City”, “Miss Ann”, and “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”, John ably playing the six-string bass. We cut to a four-minute jam on what we now know as “Dig It”, George Martin happily wielding a shaker and Heather twirling to her heart’s delight. John’s “Georgie Wood” quip accompanies Ringo almost falling off his drum stool.
We cut to Paul mid-pep talk, complete with another unbleeped F-bomb, at John about getting over their “nervousness” about playing to an audience. There’s a reference to getting into a black bag at the Albert Hall; John and Yoko had done just that a month before for an underground artists’ “happening”, only in a white bag.
We are now 47 minutes in, and the lights in the basement studio have changed for the formal performances: “Two Of Us”, with a wonderful perspective on all the parts George is playing, and noticeably different whistling in the coda; “Let It Be”, with the audio for George’s solo way off from his fingers, and Paul singing “there will be no sorrow”; and “The Long And Winding Road”—not the unvarnished album track, but with slight lyrical variations and a brief organ solo from Billy. At the very end, Tony leans over the piano and the curtain effect recurs.
With 22 minutes in the film remaining, Paul appears in the doorway to the roof, followed by Ringo, Maureen, and Billy. John and George get into place, John cajoles “youse idiots”, and we’re off into “Get Back”. The camera pulls back from the roof for the organ solo to show reaction at street level and folks watching from nearby windows and rooftops. “Don’t Let Me Down” follows, and the camera again goes to the rapidly filling street for the bridge, returning in time for John to botch the words for the next verse, to Ringo’s delight.
The police try to keep the honking traffic moving as pedestrians dodge cars, and “I’ve Got A Feeling” starts while an older gentleman praises the band’s character. Just as George nails the descending solo, we cut to a woman exasperatedly expressing her disapproval, while other passers-by are more approving, except for the fellow who’s not pleased with the disruptive volume. More testimony precedes “One After 909”; after George’s solo we see one policeman knock on the door of the Apple building while others deal with disgruntled observers. John sings a line from “Danny Boy” after the song ends, and “Dig A Pony” has a false start due to Ringo’s cigarette. The “all I want is you” intro is left intact, and there’s Kevin holding the lyrics where John can see them. During George’s solo we see two younger policemen knock on the door of the building, then an angle from the inside when Jimmy lets them in. Shortly, Mal appears to lead them upstairs.
As soon as the police appear on the roof, the boys tear into “Get Back” again. There is some confusion between George and Mal by his amp, and John stops playing, but the song keeps going and John is able to play his first solo. Mal huddles with the police for the rest of the song, until they leave just before Paul extemporizes a verse about Loretta “playing on the roofs again” against her mother’s wishes. The song ends, they remove their instruments, Ringo stands up, and John thanks those present with the hope they “passed the audition.” The frame freezes, and we hear another twenty seconds past the fade from the “Get Back” single. The end.
***
Now that we’ve seen Jackson’s edit, it’s amazing how Michael managed to cut three collective weeks of filming into 47 minutes. With so much more of each day now available, such an editing process seems daunting at best, if not impossible.
In hindsight, what to do with the footage now that they were done filming would appear to be obvious. Were this a TV special, as originally envisioned, having some scenes of rehearsing the songs we see in the second half of the film night have been interesting, or even including some of the more interesting jams and one-offs. The problem was that they felt they had barely half an album ready, and so they kept tinkering with the idea of “finishing” it by recording more songs, until they could no longer see the forest for the trees. One solution could have been an album with the three staged studio songs on one side, plus “For You Blue” and some of the oldies, and the rooftop songs on the other.
But such “what-if” questions dot the band’s history. The original Let It Be film isn’t so much depressing as it is dull, at least until they’re up on the roof. And while Paul does come off as bossy from time to time, we don’t get the impression that they’re miserable. To further bust myths, Yoko is present but silent, John is engaged and not visibly out of it, Michael is barely in the cut, and George is generally cheerful. Context is a great gift, but it remains to be seen how this will be viewed in the canon going forward. As of this writing, the film is not available for general distribution or viewing.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Beatles Get Back 23: Afterwards

So now that we know January 1969 wasn’t a complete waste of time in Beatledom, what happened to the proposed TV special and accompanying album?
Well, lots of things. First, the boys contracted Allen Klein to manage Apple (read: their finances) with the firm of Eastman & Eastman (Linda’s father and brother) to consult on various legal issues. Paul shaved off his beard. George had his tonsils out. John and Yoko performed a few “happenings”. Ringo went off to do his film, as planned. They did occasionally get together to work on music, with the idea to build on what they’d started; John’s “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” was the focus of a few sessions. Glyn continued mixing some of the tracks from the Apple studio as well as the roof to see if they could flesh an album out of it, to be called Get Back. In April, the “Get Back” single, with “Don’t Let Me Down” on the B-side, was released with a George Martin production credit, and the label reading “The Beatles with Billy Preston”. Both recordings were from the Apple studio, and not from the rooftop gig.
But by March they had become very scattered, as Paul had feared, with extracurriculars. Both he and George helped Apple artists with sessions, and then Paul married Linda, and then John married Yoko. Once those two came back from their first Bed-In, the group gathered for a photo shoot to coincide with the “Get Back” single. With George and Ringo elsewhere, John corralled Paul to record “The Ballad Of John And Yoko”, joined by George two days later to record “Old Brown Shoe”, and both were released as a single while “Get Back” was still atop the charts. As April turned to May, more songs were freshly recorded, including “Octopus’s Garden”, “Oh! Darling”, “Something”, and Paul’s new “You Never Give Me Your Money”. All but the last had been tested during January, but the focus of “finishing” what they started had vanished. Not only were these songs not recorded live in a single take, as had been the idea in January, but they also overdubbed new vocals and guitars on the final take of “Let It Be” from January 31.
By the summer John had become sidetracked again with another Bed-In, which resulted in his solo “Give Peace A Chance” single, and the band’s financial situation continued to be a gigantic mess. It was during this period that there was pressure to have Allen Klein manage everything, dire warnings from the Eastmans, and a new wrench when Dick James—remember him?—decided he’d had enough of the boys’ petulance and sold his shares of their publishing out from under them. Yet somehow John and Paul managed to work together completing the two-year-old track “You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)” for future release.
With the footage from January already dated, Paul corralled the other Beatles to press on with a newer album mostly from scratch, returning mostly to the EMI studio on Abbey Road with George Martin producing. In addition to the handful of songs they’d amassed in the last few months, they managed to complete would become the superior Abbey Road in a matter of six or so weeks. Interestingly, all but five songs on the album had been attempted at least once in January.
Feeling justifiably accomplished, they decided that once that was out of the way, the film of them working in January could be expanded into a feature film, and had Glyn give another go at compiling a soundtrack of sorts. Abbey Road would come out in the fall, so the film and its album could follow in early 1970. By now, Michael’s rough cut of the film included performances of both “Across The Universe” and “I Me Mine”, so the former was remixed from its abandoned February 1968 recording, and the latter was recorded fresh by George, Paul, and Ringo in January 1970. Other than those two, Glyn’s selections still leaned on recordings from the studio, with only “One After 909” coming from the roof. George and Paul also continued tinkering with the tracks, embellishing “For You Blue” with a new vocal and ornamenting “Let It Be” even further. (“Teddy Boy” had been thankfully removed from the running, since it wasn’t seen in the film.)
The album still wasn’t quite there, unfortunately. Along with the wrinkle of “Don’t Let Me Down” appearing on the Hey Jude compilation of stray singles released worldwide except the U.K. in February 1970, necessitating its exclusion now, back in September John had told the others he was leaving the group and had begun actively recording as a solo artist. Somehow Phil Spector ended up producing John’s “Instant Karma” single—which likely spurred Paul to ramp up his home recording experiments to create the one-man-band McCartney album of actual songs—and was tasked with finalizing what was now called Let It Be. He used nearly all different takes than the ones Glyn had chosen, including two further songs from the rooftop, though it must be noted he was not the first to deviate from their “no overdubs” policy. Whatever one’s opinion of his selections or his mixes, Spector’s Let It Be is the one that remains in the canon today.
As for the film, it was finally released in May of 1970. It has its moments of fun, it can be tense and depressing, and the rooftop segment is the undisputed highlight. And if it weren’t for Michael Lindsay-Hogg filming, recording, and cajoling as much as he could, often with zero cooperation from his subjects, Peter Jackson wouldn’t have been able to present the incredible extravaganza that The Beatles: Get Back turned out to be.