Beatles ‘Let It Be' Box Gets a Four-Track Sneak Preview With Alternate Takes and Mixes

© Ethan A. Russell/Apple Corps Ltd

The Beatles’ camp is heightening anticipation for the Oct. 15 release of a “Let It Be: Special Edition” boxed set by issuing four tracks to digital service providers today, representing different components of a collection that includes new mixes, unreleased vintage mixes and previously unheard alternate takes.

In the latter category are never-before-heard variants of two of the most celebrated rockers from the 1970 “Let It Be” album, “Get Back” (here heard in “Take 8” form) and “One After 909” (“Take 3”).

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George Harrison’s “I Me Mine,” meanwhile, is subtitled “1970 Glyn Johns Mix,” representing a version that engineer Johns put together in the studio for possible release. It’s included on an EP of different mixes that rounds out the new box. It was the last song ever recorded by the Beatles — albeit with John Lennon missing from the session — on January 3, 1970; Johns put together this unused mix two days later, for an album that at that time was still scheduled to be released under the title “Get Back.”

Finally, a 2021 mix of “Across the Universe” overseen by Giles Martin is getting its first public airing. It’s not a radically different rendering from what was released in 1970, in that it’s not a “naked” version that has been stripped of its Phil Spector-ization, but represents a fresh spin on Spector’s “re-producing” of the track after original tracking sessions were complete.

 

The version of “One After 909” has a significant difference from the 51-year-old album version: Billy Preston had taken producer George Martin’s suggestion to play piano on it in the studio — and he adopted a barrelhouse style for that session — before he went back to playing organ on the rooftop concert version.

This version of “Get Back,” meanwhile, is from a moment in the sessions that the Beatles, Martin and engineer Glyn Johns were all concerned that the pace was getting too slow — but even at less of a clip, it’s an interesting variation, ending with Paul McCartney doing a funny vocal vamp over the coda. The group got what they considered the master take of “Get Back” three takes later in that same January 1969 session, although they ended up combining it with a coda recorded the following day for the ultimate studio rendering of the track.

“Let It Be: Special Edition’s” release Oct. 15 will be followed by a lavish book about the sessions and filming of the “Let It Be” movie, titled “Get Back,” on Nov. 12, with Peter Jackson’s multi-part film documentary finally arriving Thanksgiving week. More information on the boxed set can be found here.

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