The thirteenth and last Beatles LP before they eventually broke up was entitled "Let It Be". This LP was released in the UK on May 08 1970 (Apple PXS 1). The UK LP was originally housed as a box set which included the outer box, a slipcase to hold an 8.5 x 11 paperback glossy book entitled "The Beatles Get Back" plus the LP and cover. The book and the box were eventually discarded and the LP was re-issued on November 06 1970 as Apple PCS 7096. The black cover features four separate photos of the individual members. The back cover of the LP also features the members of the band in smaller individual photos that are black and white surrounded by thin white lines framing the photos. The back cover states a bit of hype at the top eluding to the fact that this was a "new phase" Beatles album...mainly meaning that most of the songs were performed live with minimal overdubs (which is true in most cases). The back cover of the LP also credits Phil Spector as producer although under the photos a "Thanks" is given to George Martin and Glyn Jones. Original British copies feature the Apple logo at the bottom of the cover. The apple is coloured red. Side one features a whole apple while side 2 features a cut half apple. The labels mention the artist/title/tracklist/publishing credits but no producer credits.
The North American versions of "Let It Be" were released in different formats for Canada and the Unites States. In Canada, "Let It Be" came in the form of the box set with the difference that the outer boxes in the UK were laminated and the outer boxes in Canada were not. Both featured the same book (imports from the UK were housed in Canadian copies). The Canadian box set's catalogue number was Apple SOAL-6351 which was featured on the cover and label of the LP. The cover was the same as the UK with the exception being that the cover was not laminated (as it was in the UK) and that the Apple logo at the bottom of the back cover was green and the blurb underneath related to a Canadian distribution rather than the EMI blurb. The Canadian Apple labels on the disc credit Phil Spector as producer. The box set was discontinued in Canada after six months (the same as the UK) and the catalogue number was changed to Apple SW-6386. Another difference this time: the tracklist of the songs now included publishing credits and timings; the Apple logo was still green but moved to the lower right corner of the back cover.
In the Unites States, "Let it Be" was released on May 18 1970 as Apple AR-34001. This version was never released as a box set but was released as a gate fold LP. The front and back of the LP cover was similar to the others with the exception that there are no white frames around the back cover black and white photos of the individual members, the Apple logo at the bottom of the back cover is red; underneath the logo is the New York address for Apple as well as the "ABKCO" logo (I'll betcha Paul loved that !!). The inner gatefold features photographs by Ethan Russell on either side with one large photo of the Beatles at work in Twickenham Studios on the left and the Beatles at Apple in front of the mixing desk, on the 3 Savile Row rooftop, at Twickenham again and four individual photos on the right. All in colour. The labels for side 1 and side 2 on the record are tinted red apples. This tint indicates the affiliation with United Artist whereby this LP is regarded as an official soundtrack to the Beatles fourth movie for UA. The labels mention the credit for Phil Spector.
There were a lot of negative reviews for the LP at the time and in hindsight I can understand how some people probably thought it was a step back for the Beatles after listening to the very shiny, glossy production of "Abbey Road" which had been released about seven months earlier. One must remember that the tracks for "Let It Be" were recorded before the tracks for "Abbey Road". One must also remember that "Let It Be" contains not only the amazing title track via an Apple single, but another major hit and Apple single "Get Back" as well as a third Apple single that was to be released in North America "The Long and Winding Road". All three song still performed by Paul McCartney with his band on his tours around the world. The LP also contains Lennon's "Across the Universe" and other fantastic classic rock songs.
In the next few posts we will look at the track list.