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PRODUCER GILES MARTIN ON REMIXING THE BEATLES “LET IT BE”: “I WAS SURPRISED BY THE CAMARADERIE”

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A revealing new boxset – including overhauled songs, studio outtakes and the scrapped original mix – sheds fresh light on the Fab Four

Now, Giles Martin –son of late Beatles producer George, who was ostracised during ‘Let It Be’ – has polished the album up once more, effectively trying to find some middle ground between the two versions. At this point, Martin Jr. has remixed four of the Fab Four’s records and confesses: “I have been working on Beatles projects for longer than my Dad produced them, which is kind of embarrassing.”

‘Let It Be’ redux finally arrives this week. The original album emerged from exhaustively documented, self-contained 1969 studio sessions: the band wrote songs on the spot in two-and-a-half weeks, with cameras rolling the whole time, and then performed them at their legendary rooftop concert above their Apple offices on London’s Savile Row. That process was captured in Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s 1970 Let It Be documentary, and Peter Jackson has overhauled the raw footage for Get Back, his upcoming, six-hour TV reexamination of it all.

The new boxset includes a previously scrapped original mix, as well as studio outtakes of the band chatting and working out the kinks in the tunes – and their relationships. Listen up for John’s warm, Beatlesy rendition of ‘Gimme Some Truth’, which would eventually be released as a 1971 solo snarlathon.

Although the original ‘Let It Be’ was recorded before 1969’s ‘Abbey Road’, it wasn’t released until after the group parted ways: The Beatles’ ‘final’ record has thus been widely viewed as a break-up album. Yet Giles explains that the outtakes depict a band who have already found the long and winding road back to one another…

Is remixing ‘Let It Be’ the ultimate task for a producer?

“In some ways it’s easier than, say, attacking ‘Sgt. Pepper’s…’ [as that’s already perfect]. None of them are easy, because they’re The Beatles and you get criticised and examined, but this album is interesting because it’s a Beatles record that wasn’t really approved by The Beatles when it came out. We weren’t even sure we were gonna do it, to be honest with you. We’d tackled the others and I called Paul up and said, ‘What do you think about it?’, because he wasn’t happy about [Spector’s production as it happened without his consultation]. He said, ‘You can’t change history. But I don’t really like the harp on ‘The Long and Winding Road’ – could you turn that down a little bit…?’”

That’s been bothering him for 50 years!

“The funny thing is that it’s on the same track as the strings, so you can’t really! But the reaction to this whole project has shown that every Beatles album is really important. Everyone’s gone, ‘We can’t wait for this!’, which is great. I did half of ‘Let It Be’ in a cottage in the middle of nowhere because of lockdown. We were in isolation and so we were like The Beatles [while making the original album], in a way. It’s a small team that works on this: there’s me and Sam [Okell, engineer], and we send it out to The Beatles and The Beatles families, and that’s it.”


What do you make, personally, of Phil Spector’s treatment of the original album?

“If you take ‘Across The Universe’, for example: that’s like a folk song without his production on it, [which is] kind of slightly heavy handed. I think it would have been very different if my Dad had done it. Not necessarily better; just very different. I think Paul’s main issue with what happened is that he normally had a lot of input into the arrangements, and he didn’t with Spector – they arranged it without him. I was listening to [off-cuts from 1966’s] ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and even at that early stage you can hear my Dad saying, ‘Do you want that vibrato or not vibrato, Paul?’”


Your Dad famously described ‘Let It Be’’ as “over-produced by Phil Spector”…

“Phil Spector was very different to my Dad – he was an artist producer, so he wanted everything to sound like Phil Spector had done it. My Dad was more of a sensitive, blueprint producer. He would take the ideas and interpret them, like a satellite dish that could beam them onto a vinyl record. Spector would force his character on it, but you can’t really take away from the iconic sound that he gives.

“I have the legacy of my Dad talking about what an unpleasant experience ‘Let It Be’ was, and how upset he was. It hurt him. The Beatles said they wanted a live album and didn’t need him to produce it, and then Spector did everything they said they wouldn’t do. That hurt him, and I think it hurt Paul too.”


How did you initially approach the project?

“You realise: this is an album that’s kind of fragmented in its creation. So how can we make it more unified in its sound? We put the strings through in Abbey Road [Studios] so they threaded through a bit and didn’t sound so stuck on… This album has a performance on a rooftop, a song – ‘Across The Universe’ – from a couple of years before, Phil Spector’s production and all the stuff from Savile Row, which was different for the Beatles because they were recording a rehearsing at the same time. So I suppose my approach was to make it sound more like an album.”


Were you surprised by anything you learned when you were delving through the offcuts?

“I was surprised by the camaraderie, especially between John and Paul. We sort of see this as The Beatles’ ‘break-up album’, and of course it wasn’t because they were back in the studio doing ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’ [on ‘Abbey Road’] pretty soon afterwards… It was quite a collaborative process. The strain of ‘Let It Be’ was actually the strain that [John and Paul] put on George and Ringo by trying to force themselves together, and the strain of doing a live show with no songs in two-and-a-half weeks’ time.”


Tell us more about the strain on George and Ringo…

“What I can get [from the outtakes] is that George was being ostracised slightly during ‘Let It Be’. Because he had all these songs [which eventually became his sprawling 1970 solo album ‘All Things Must Pass’] but you hear John refer to him as “Harrisongs” – he’s got his own publishing deal and he’s come as a songwriter. It’s like, ‘Oh – we should give George a song.’ At this stage, George was writing way more than John was. I think John had some sort of writers’ block – he doesn’t have a huge amount of songs on ‘Let It Be’. I think the attention [John and Paul] were giving one another – almost like they were trying to rekindle their relationship – ostracised George, to a certain degree.”


Did you get the impression that legendary session player Billy Preston was key to the whole operation, too?

“I think Billy Preston brought a couple of things. First off, he was an amazing player. So, in Twickenham, there’s a fair amount of dicking around that goes on (to use the technical term). They seem to be just jamming mindlessly, and not really finishing songs. And the suddenly you’ve got someone who’s replaced Ray Charles on organ in his own band, as George says [in one clip]. He’s scarily good, and younger than they are. And they suddenly have to step up to the plate.

“Secondly, The Beatles are born live performers. This time, they didn’t have my Dad to perform to, but they kinda need someone like that. They needed to show off to someone. So not only did Billy Preston add things musically; I think his presence changed the way they approached it. He’s not there to patch things up; he’s there to play keyboards for their concert.”


With these remix projects, is part of the brief to make the albums sound ‘current’?

“With a recording, you’re frozen in time. I like the idea that The Beatles will always be that age that they were on record. If you’re 28 and you make a record in 1968, it’s the same as a 28-year-old making a record now. You don’t get any older; we just get older around it. The thing I try and get across is the transfer of energy. You listen to a Beatles record and it’s full of exuberance and it has to stand alongside a modern day… I like the idea that my kids listen to the Beatles and imagine being in the room with them, and [John and George] not being dead. That’s the magic of it.”


When you include studio outtakes in a box set like this, is there a danger of spoiling the magic?

“I always think about George Harrison saying [of the endless thirst for Beatles scraps], ‘We’re scraping the bottom of the bottom of the barrel now.’ This is the conversation I had with Paul in lockdown. He said, ‘How many versions of ‘Get Back’ do people need to hear?’ I said, ‘You’re asking the wrong person – my answer would be probably be less than other people’s answer!’

“But I also think there’s a beauty in the sketches. People can get inspired by realising there are raw ingredients to something they love. Sometimes you think, ‘How they hell did they do this? And then you go, ‘Oh! That’s how they did it!’” Sometimes it’s a bit disappointing that it wasn’t magic, but it’s also hugely inspiring.”


So you just have to be careful not to dig stuff out for the sake of it?

“When you get to ‘spot the difference’ [between certain takes], it gets crazy. Or you have tracks that just don’t sounds very good. There’s a famous rock’n’roll medley that they played on the Let It Be film. It just doesn’t sound very good! It’s not very well-played and it’s not meant to be heard again – it’s in the moment. [When deciding what to include], you never get it right for some people – but someone has to make a decision!”

It’s amazing how perfect and soothing the song ‘Let It Be’ sounds in 2021, given what we’ve all just been through…

“I find it quite amusing that this is considered a ‘forgotten’ Beatles album, or whatever, and yet it has one of the most successful Beatles songs of all time on it. And that’s the Beatles! It’s not like it’s the most successful Supertramp song of all time! [Laughs] It’s against some pretty stiff competition. And then you look at ‘Let It Be’ and you realise it has all these songs on it that are pretty bloody amazing. You think, ‘Jesus, they were kinda good, weren’t they?’”

– The ‘Let It Be’ boxset is out GET YOUR COPY HERE. Also the new book, The Beatles: Get Back : H E R E .

Peter Jackson’s three-part TV documentary Get Back will premiere on Disney+ in November

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WATCH THE NEW TRAILER FOR “THE BEATLES: GET BACK”

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AN ORIGINAL DOCUSERIES DIRECTED BY PETER JACKSON

Three-Part Series Made Entirely from Never-Before-Seen, Restored Footage to Premiere on Disney+ November 25, 26, and 27

Today, Disney+ released the trailer and key art for the upcoming three-part series “The Beatles: Get Back.” The Disney+ original docuseries, directed by Peter Jackson, will be arriving on Disney+ just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Made entirely from never-before-seen, restored footage, it provides the most intimate and honest glimpse into the creative process and relationship between John, Paul, George, and Ringo ever filmed.

Be sure to check them both out, and don’t forget to watch “The Beatles: Get Back” when it rolls out over three days, November 25, 26, and 27, 2021, exclusively on Disney+.

Watch : Here.

PAUL MCCARTNEY SETS THE RECORD STRAIGHT ON BEATLES SPLIT

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Rock history has painted Paul McCartney as the man who broke up the band. Now he reveals that it was Lennon who was first to look for a way out
It remains the most analysed break-up in rock history: the one that set the template. When the Beatles split more than 50 years ago and Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr went their separate ways, it was McCartney who shouldered most of the blame.

“I didn’t instigate the split. That was our Johnny,” Paul said.

McCartney has insisted in a candid and detailed interview to be broadcast later this month.
Recalling what he sees as the “most difficult period of my life”, McCartney, who celebrates his 80th birthday next summer, reveals he wanted the group to go on, especially as after just eight years together, they were still creating “pretty good stuff”. “Abbey Road, Let It Be, not bad,” he will argue in an upcoming episode of the new BBC Radio 4 interview series This Cultural Life. “This was my band, this was my job, this was my life, so I wanted it to continue.”

If Lennon had not quit, the band’s musical journey might have been much longer, McCartney agrees. “It could have been. The point of it really was that John was making a new life with Yoko. John had always wanted to sort of break loose from society because, you know, he was brought up by his Aunt Mimi, who was quite repressive, so he was always looking to break loose.”

Legend has it that McCartney unilaterally broke up the band in 1970 when he answered a journalist’s question with the claim that the Beatles no longer existed. He was also accused of spoiling the group dynamic by asking in lawyers to settle their disputes. It is a burden he has struggled with ever since. “I had to live with that because that was what people saw. All I could do is say, no,” he admits, speaking out in advance of the publication of the book of lyrics that McCartney agrees is as close as he may ever come to an autobiography.

Paul McCartney with John Wilson, his interviewer for This Cultural Life on BBC Radio 4

If Lennon had not quit, the band’s musical journey might have been much longer, McCartney agrees. “It could have been. The point of it really was that John was making a new life with Yoko. John had always wanted to sort of break loose from society because, you know, he was brought up by his Aunt Mimi, who was quite repressive, so he was always looking to break loose.”

Legend has it that McCartney unilaterally broke up the band in 1970 when he answered a journalist’s question with the claim that the Beatles no longer existed. He was also accused of spoiling the group dynamic by asking in lawyers to settle their disputes. It is a burden he has struggled with ever since. “I had to live with that because that was what people saw. All I could do is say, no,” he admits, speaking out in advance of the publication of the book of lyrics that McCartney agrees is as close as he may ever come to an autobiography.

The interview also comes ahead of increased scrutiny that is set to follow the release next month of Get Back, Peter Jackson’s television series chronicling the final months of the band.

Asked about his decision to go solo, McCartney says: “Stop right there. I am not the person who instigated the split. Oh no, no, no. John walked into a room one day and said I am leaving the Beatles. Is that instigating the split, or not?”

McCartney tells interviewer John Wilson that Lennon described his decision to leave as “quite thrilling” and “rather like a divorce”. The other members, he adds, were “left to pick up the pieces”.

Paul ended up suing the rest of the band in the high court, seeking the dissolution of their contractual relationship in order to keep their music out of Klein’s hands.

Confusion about who caused the break-up arose because the group’s new manager, Allen Klein, told them to keep quiet about the split while he concluded some business deals. “So for a few months we had to pretend,” McCartney tells Wilson. “It was weird because we all knew it was the end of the Beatles but we couldn’t just walk away.” Eventually, McCartney became unhappy with the subterfuge and “let the cat out of the bag” because “I was fed up of hiding it”.

Remembering the unpleasant atmosphere at the time and the “dodgy” influence of Klein, McCartney said: “Around about that time we were having little meetings and it was horrible. It was the opposite of what we were. We were musicians not meeting people,” he said. The split became inevitable, he believes, because John “wanted to go in a bag and lie in bed for a week in Amsterdam for peace. And you couldn’t argue with that.” Yet he does not hold Yoko responsible, he adds. “

The lawyers, he claims, were brought in to protect the Beatles legacy: “I had to fight and the only way I could fight was in suing the other Beatles, because they were going with Klein. And they thanked me for it years later. But I didn’t instigate the split. That was our Johnny coming in one day and saying ‘I’m leaving the group’.”

Paul said he could not “foresee a time when Lennon-McCartney becomes an active songwriting partnership again”.

McCartney will also discuss the discovery of the unrecorded Lennon and McCartney lyric to a song titled Tell Me Who He Is, which he has not seen for 60 years.

“It was amazing to find this. It is my handwriting but I don’t know how it goes. It would have been a love ballad, rock thing. I would have probably had a tune to it. But you could not put things down. You didn’t have any recording devices so you had to remember them.”

Perhaps more surprisingly, the musician reveals that a long-lost radio play script, written with Lennon, has also just been unearthed. “For years I’ve been telling people that me and John wrote a play. It is quite a funny thing called Pilchard, and it is about the messiah, actually.”

The four pages of dialogue, he reveals, were inspired by the kitchen-sink genre, popular at the time, and the drama revolves around a mother and daughter and their mysterious lodger upstairs.

The interview goes out on 23 October and, the following Monday, recordings of McCartney reading from his new book, “The Lyrics”.

COURSE ON THE BEATLES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF LIVERPOOL

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In Liverpool, England, a postgraduate program aims to turn Beatles fans into serious students of the band’s legacy.
On Wednesday morning, as a new semester began, students eagerly headed into the University of Liverpool’s lecture theaters to begin courses in archaeology, languages and international relations.

But in lecture room No. 5 of the university’s concrete Rendall Building, a less traditional program was getting underway: a master’s degree devoted entirely to the Beatles.

“How does one start a Beatles M.A.?” asked Holly Tessler, the American academic who founded the course, looking out at 11 eager students. One wore a Yoko Ono T-shirt; another had a yellow submarine tattooed on his arm.
“I thought the only way to do it, really, is with some music,” she said.
Tessler then played the class the music video for “Penny Lane,” the Beatles’ tribute to a real street in Liverpool, just a short drive from the classroom.

The yearlong course — “The Beatles: Music Industry and Heritage” — would focus on shifting perceptions of the Beatles over the past 50 years, and on how the band’s changing stories affected commercial sectors like the record business and tourism, Tessler said in an interview before class.
For Liverpool, the band’s hometown, the association with the Beatles was worth over $110 million a year, according to a 2014 study by Mike Jones, another lecturer on the course. Tourists make pilgrimages to city sites named in the band’s songs, visit venues where the group played — like the Cavern Club — and pose for photos with Beatles statues. The band’s impact was always economic and social, as much as a musical, Tessler said.

Throughout the course, students would have to stop being simply Beatles fans and start thinking about the group from new perspectives, she added. “Nobody wants or needs a degree where people are sitting around listening to ‘Rubber Soul’ debating lyrics,” she said. “That’s what you do in the pub.”

In Wednesday’s lecture, which focused almost entirely on “Penny Lane,” Tessler encouraged the students to think of the Beatles as a “cultural brand,” using the terms “narrative theory” and “transmediality.”
Then she applied those ideas to a recent Beatles-related event. Last year, Tessler said, street signs along the real Penny Lane were defaced as Black Lives Matter protests spread across Britain. There was a longstanding belief in Liverpool, she explained, that the street was named after an 18th-century slave trader called James Penny. (The city’s International Slavery Museum listed Penny Lane in an interactive display of street names linked to slavery in 2007, but it now says there is no evidence that the road was named after the merchant.)

“What would happen if they did change the name to — I don’t know — Smith Lane?” Tessler asked. That would deprive Liverpool of a key tourist attraction, she said: “You can’t pose next to a sign that used to be Penny Lane.” The furor around the street name showed how stories about the Beatles can intersect with contemporary debates, and have an economic impact, she said.

The course’s 11 students — three women and eight men, aged 21 to 67 — all said they were long-term Beatles obsessives. (Two had named their sons Jude, after one of the band’s most famous songs; another had a son called George, after George Harrison.)

Dale Roberts, 31, and Damion Ewing, 51, both said they were professional tour guides, and hoped the qualification would help them attract customers. “The tour industry in Liverpool is fierce,” Roberts said.

Alexandra Mason, 21, said she had recently completed a law degree but decided to change track when she heard about the Beatles course. “I never really wanted to be a lawyer,” she said. “I always wanted to do something more colorful and creative.”

She added:“In my mind, I’ve gone from the ridiculous to the sublime” but said that some might think she’d done the opposite.
A postgraduate qualification in the Beatles is a rarity, but the band has been studied in other contexts for decades. Stephen Bayley, an architecture critic who is now an honorary professor at the University of Liverpool, said that when he was a student in the 1960s at Quarry Bank High School in Liverpool — John Lennon’s alma mater — his English teacher taught Beatles lyrics alongside the poetry of John Keats.

In 1967, Bayley wrote to Lennon asking for help analyzing songs on “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Bayley said Lennon “wrote back basically saying, ‘You can’t analyze them.’”

But these days a growing number of academics are doing just that: Tessler said researchers in several disciplines were writing about the Beatles, many exploring perspectives on the band informed by race or feminism. Next year, she plans to start a journal of Beatles studies, she said.

Tessler concluded Wednesday’s class by outlining the subjects for the semester’s remaining lectures. It was a program that any Beatles fan would savor, including field trips to St. Peter’s Church, where Lennon and McCartney first met in 1957 in the church hall, and Strawberry Field, the former children’s home the band immortalized in song. Classes would cover key moments in the band’s history including a famous live television appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and Lennon’s murder in 1980, Tessler said.

She then gave the students a reading list, topped by a textbook called “The Beatles in Context.” Were there any questions, she asked?
“What’s your favorite Beatles’ album?” called out Dom Abba, 27, the student with the yellow submarine tattoo.

Tessler gamely answered (“The American version of ‘Rubber Soul’”), then clarified what she’d meant: “Does anybody have any questions about the module?” The students clearly still had a ways to go before they become Beatles academics, as much as fans. But there were still 11 months of lectures left.