The next appearance of a "new" Beatles song was a single released in the UK on Apple R 5833 on March 06 1970 and in North America on Apple 2764 on March 11 1970. The single consisted of "Let It Be/ You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)". This post will deal with the A side. This was the last single released in the UK while the group were still together.
"Let It be" is an original Lennon/McCartney composition written mainly by Paul. The song title came to Paul during a dream in which his mother appeared and re-assured him. This piano based hymn like song was also the title of the next LP as well as the last Beatles film to be made while the group were still together.
A run through of the song with just Paul sitting at the piano was performed on January 09 1969 during the documentary filming of the "Get Back" project at Twickhan Film studios in London.
The first true official recording of the song took place at Apple Studios in London on Janaury 25 1969 whereby "Let It Be" starting with just piano and vocal and the other instruments drifting in. This version is made available on the Apple 3-LP/2-CD "Anthology 3".
The next day on January 26 1969 once again from Apple Studios, another version of "Let It Be" was performed but it remains incomplete and was not released.
On Friday January 31 1969 at Apple Studios, take 27 of "Let It Be" is used for the commercial basic track. The instrumentation at this point is Paul on piano and vocal, John on bass, George Harrison on guitar, Ringo on drums and Billy Preston on organ. (An edit of takes 27 - second attempt - and the earlier take 24 were used for the film version). The "Get Back" LP also uses take 27 for it's track line-up.
Stereo mixing for the "Get Back" LP version of "Let it Be" was completed on March 10 1969 by Glyn Johns at Olympic Sound Studios in Barnes, London. (mix take unknown). This mix would not be used in the end.
On April 30 1969, George Harrison was dissatisfied with his original guitar solo on "Let It Be" and decided to overdub a new one onto take 27 using his leslie based sound. The overdub took place at EMI studio three. This version with the new solo was released on the "Get Back" LP (both versions).
A new stereo mix for the "Get Back" LP was attempted and completed on Wednesday May 29 1969 by George Martin and Glyn Johns at Olympic Sound Studios Barnes, London. The LP was banded and compiled and presented to the Beatles. It was rejected. Although this particular LP was never officially released, there are tons of bootlegs that contain the music and the early take 27 version of "Let It Be".
On Sunday January 04 1970, an overdub of some backing vocals by George Harrison and Paul McCartney were overdubbed onto take 27. A reduction take was then attempted three times bringing the song to take 30. While the reduction was taking place, brass instruments were overdubbed at the same time. Once completed and reduced, another more distorted guitar solo by George Harrison was added as well as some drums by Ringo and percussion (maracas) by Paul. Finally, cellos were added to the end of the song. Two stereo mixes were made: one with the original guitar solo using a leslie by George Harrison and with the brass mixed down; and one with the distorted lead guitar solo with the brass brought up in the mix. These two stereo mixes can be identified mainly by the guitar solos.
"Let It Be" is available (mix one) on the Apple worldwide single. The song is also available on the Apple LP/CD "Let It Be" (mix two). It can also be heard on the Apple 2-LP/2-CD "The Beatles 1967-1970"(mix one), the EMI/ Capitol of Canada LP "The Beatles Ballads" (mix one), the EMI/Capitol LP "Reel Music" (mix two), the North American version of the Capitol LP "20 Greatest Hits" (mix one), the Apple/EMI 2-LP/CD "1", the EMI 2-LP/CD "Past Masters Volume two" as well as the EMI 2-CD "Past Masters" (both using mix one). Finally , a version with take 27 using additional vocals from the film version has been introduced on the Apple/EMI LP/CD "Let It Be...Naked".
"Let It Be" has been performed live by Paul McCartney several times during his solo career including the Wings tour of 1979, and is available on the Atlantic 2-LP "Concerts For The People Of Kampuchea". The song was also performed on July 13 1985 for "Live Aid". The song was also performed during Paul's 1989-1990 tour and was included on the EMI 3-LP/2-CD "Tripping the Live Fantastic" and it's EMI LP/CD companion: "Tripping the Live Fantastic: Highlights", the song was also performed during Paul's 1991 surprise live gigs and on the 1993 New World Tour. The song has also been performed by Paul and his band through the 2000s including versions on EMI's 2-CD "Back in the World" and the DVD/CD "Back in the US" and all subsequent tours including his 2010 "Up and Coming" tour.