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The Beatles' "Let It Be" (33 1/3) (33 1/3) (33 1/3) [Paperback]

Steve Matteo
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

9 Sep 2004 33 1/3 (Book 12)
The recording sessions for Let It Be were actually begun as rehearsals for a proposed return to live stage work for the Beatles, to be inaugurated in a concert at a Roman amphitheatre in Tunisia. Here, Steve Matteo delves deep into the complex history of these recording sessions. He talks to many of the people involved in the recording of these songs, and the accompanying documentary. And he also looks at the Spector-less version of the album released in 2003. 33 1/3 is a series of short books about critically acclaimed and much-loved albums of the last 40 years. Focusing on one album rather than an artist's entire output, the books dispense with the standard biographical background that fans know already, and cut to the heart of the music on each album. The authors provide fresh, original perspectives, often through their access to and relationships with the key figures involved in the recording of these albums. By turns obsessive, passionate, creative, and informed, the books in this series demonstrate many different ways of writing about music. (A task that can be, as Elvis Costello famously observed, as tricky as dancing about architecture.) What binds this series together, and what brings it to life, is that all of the authors - musicians, scholars, and writers - are deeply in love with the album they have chosen. Previous titles in this now well-established series have beaten sales expectations and received excellent review coverage - the third batch is sure to continue this success. More titles follow in the spring of 2005.

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The Beatles' "Let It Be" (33 1/3) (33 1/3) (33 1/3) + The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street (33 1/3) + Neil Young's 'Harvest' (331/3)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 141 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd. (9 Sep 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826416349
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826416346
  • Product Dimensions: 12 x 1 x 16.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 408,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Let It Be is far from the Beatles' most memorable record, but as most know, its inception marked a seminal time period in the life (or death) of the most influential band in rock 'n' roll history. Steve Matteo's research is meticulous, giving to-the-minute accounts of things that happened during the making of Let It Be and its depth stifles the writer's voice in exchange for relaying the chaos and controversy over these sessions (and, almost more importantly, the tapes documenting them)." Zack Adcock, The Hub Weekly, 1/13/05--Sanford Lakoff

About the Author

Steve Matteo is the author of the short biography Dylan (MetroBooks, 1999). He has written about music in a wide range of magazines including the New York Times, Blender, Rolling Stone, Spin and Details. He lives in New York.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Siriam TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book differs from nearly all of the other first eleven in this series in that instead of involving a detailed look at the songs and the music involved, given the artistes involved here are the Beatles, the author wisely focuses on the history around the recordings instead.

In so doing, Matteo has produced a little gem. Working chronologically he covers how and why the recordings occurred starting with the sessions at the Twickenham sound stage and the possible idea of a live concert at a site in North Africa to follow, progressing to the subsequent recordings made at the new Apple Studios aimed at avoiding the controls of Abbey Road, and the final Saville Row rooftop concert. The book closes with the consequences of how under different producers the incomplete recordings fell into limbo to be "rescued" by Phil Spector and the subsequent history of numerous bootleg tapes from the sessions, culminating in the release of "Let it be...Naked", a missed opportunity in the author's eyes.

What Matteo does in this story telling is include a lot of factual evidence from the thorough research he has done through interviews for the book (but it seems with none of the Beatles) and technical data garnered from many other books. But more importantly he also demyths a lot of prior held mis-perceptions along the way. His covering of the growing disillusionment of Harrison and Martin as the sessions devolve into chaos offsets the more well known stories of Ono and McCartney outbursts. From all the evidence presented, the different sessions were not the gloom and doom often conveyed subsequently especially through the released film and individual Beatles retrospective comments.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Superb and stylish book 29 Dec 2006
Format:Paperback
This book (part of the 33 1/3 series of monographs about classic albums) is a finely constucted critique of the last release, during their lifetime, by the world's greatest group. 'Let It Be', while not the greatest of the Beatles albums (that's 'Revolver and anyone who thinks otherwise is frankly wrong!) but it is culturally very significant and documents, almost accidentally via it's back to basics approach, the fragmentation of the band. This book wonderfully lets you join that ride.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Speaking words of wisdom 30 Nov 2013
By Sam Quixote TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Let It Be was initially conceived as a warm-up for the Beatles to return to live stage gigs with the first to be a lavish show in a ruined Roman Amphitheatre in Tunisia and in actuality became just one show - the legendary rooftop concert, the Beatles' last live gig together. Originally titled Get Back to highlight the band returning to its roots, the rehearsals were filmed for an accompanying documentary and showed a band on the verge of breakup, and it was retitled Let It Be, as a fitting epitaph to the fractured group. Though the album would be the last released under the Beatles name, it was recorded before their actual last album, Abbey Road.

Steve Matteo writes wonderfully about the creation of the troubled recordings, interviewing the many engineers, documentary crew, and Apple staff who witnessed the work, and using quotes from the Beatles themselves, giving us an insight into the process and the band's personalities rather than in-depth interpretations on the songs themselves, like other books in the 33 1/3 series sometimes do.

Despite John's increasingly troubling drug problems (he and Yoko were snorting a lot of heroin at the time) and George's discomfort at Paul's overbearing attitude, the recordings over several weeks were very fruitful with the band enjoying playing music together and in addition to the songs that appeared on Let It Be, half of the songs to appear on Abbey Road would be written during this period and others would appear on John, Paul and George's solo records.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A couple of howlers 29 Jan 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
At first reading this book seems quite thorough in it's content,with lots of little hidden gems regarding equipment,amplification etc.There were,unfortunately some little errors,like,for instance,Apple being situated at 3 Savile Road,Magic Alex's surname given as Madras,rather than Mardas,John and Yoko being married on the mystical ISLAND of Gibraltar,and Ringo using a multicolored kit at the Rooftop concert(it was Maple coloured).I probably missed some more,but these aside,a damn good read.Finished it in 1 day.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Didn't let me down. 27 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you like 'let it be', the album that was slated by many critics at the time of it's release, then this is a worthwhile purchase. I have always been fond of this album, warts and all, and this little book gives terrific insight to the planning and making of a collection of songs that should have culminated in their last proper concert. It corrects some of the accepted facts about the time in the studio, and upholds other theories and opinions of what was clearly a moment in time when the enthusiasm that McCartney wanted to generate was seeming to disappear after a decade spent in each others pockets. I would definitely recommend this.
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