In January, 1969, the Beatles at the behest of McCartney, rented a film studio and film crew to document just how the band went about creating a song and to return to "live" performances. The first two weeks, the band assembled in a cold, poorly lit, warehouse filled with cameras, spotlights, and film personnel. This was before even VCR tape or video disc. The original plan was to create a film, about 60 minutes long, and sell it to TV networks (NBC had great interest). In this setting, the band tried in vain to do their songs each had written and presented. This quickly dissolved into artistic disputes, arguments, lack of interest from John and George, at times. Ringo always tried to be a team player and McCartney tried to appease the resistance many times.
The last two weeks of the sessions were actually done in the Apple studios and it is where the disenchantment continued for the most part. John would bring in Yoko and suddenly the atmosphere changed as the cameras rolled. Then, to retaliate, Paul brought in Linda and her daughter, Heather. The others responded the same and at times, made snide remarks about these "strangers" entering the Beatle sanctuary.
Once the film was completed and reviewed by potential networks, none of them wanted it, as it is, even now, rather boring even for devout fans. Once the film was completed it was shelved and later edited for a movie release. The title had changed for this, from Get Back to Let It Be. It actually was in theaters for a short while, but reviews were bad and it seemed that after a week of the release, it was gone. It then appeared, many, many years later, on DVD. I must say, it is a depressing watch. The opening scene tells it all- Ringo's bass drum with "The Beatles" imprinted is shattered by the foot pedal! As many have said, this version is how the band broke up. The "bad blood" at times between John and Paul, or John and George, or George and Paul, is evident. It happens when any member of the band whose song is being worked upon and the author (John or Paul) is trying to tell the others how to play what is in their head. This is very hard to do in any band, but here, after all the years together, it is really personal and offensive.
The New Version
As press releases have said, the new version has added hours of previously cut material and will be on Disney in three one hour parts. For the most part, the new version offers up a more "happy" band to show how they loved one another as brothers. The dissents and bitterness will be kept to a minimum. Is this putting a glossy legacy on a bad situation for the sake of money? Whose idea was this for this project- I suspect it was Paul.
Cleaning up the film with new previously cut segments may not improve it much, as there is no script and no direction except in a documentary format, which it is. As for the songs, even though they have been remastered and digitized for clarity and sound mix, it won't make a bad song any better. This was attempted in the original LP release. Unlike Abbey Road, the inspiration is lacking in the Get Back LP. There are some good tunes, like Across the Universe, Let It Be, Get Back, I Me Mine, Two of Us. All the others are mostly insignificant tunes.
When first released in 1970, the LP was boxed with a book called "Get Back" containing photos and the actual dialogue in the film. While the book was called Get Back, the LP was "Let It Be". This title change was made after the print run was done. This book was not included in the US release, where the LP was a fold out LP. This new release for a lot of money now includes this reformatted book. The remastered release also includes many old rock tune jams the band performed. Their cover of the classic, "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" , which came out of another jam as the band warmed up, is why they are so great. You could tell they loved to "Get Back" to those earlier days and let it rip. Ironically, their own revision of their "One After 909" that John and Paul wrote in 1963 as a real rocker (listen to it on their Anthology CDs released in 1995) is in a different tempo in 1969 and lacks any zeal. Just horrible.
With the release of this remastered Beatle release, while Disney will no doubt make it a real "event", it will be the last of the digitized remastering of the Beatle LPs. Their legacy will stand the test of time as generations have come to known them.
Let it be.