By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Not exactly helping John’s interest level, perhaps, was his (and Ono’s) experimentation with heroin. “I think the interest level came first,” she says. “It’s not taking the enhancement, shall we say, that made him lose interest. I really think that because it was hard for him to put his effort into another Beatles album, he was eager for ‘enhancement.’ Stress relief.”
The stress was so apparently relieved that Lennon contributed only two new songs: “Don’t Let Me Down” and the peculiar “Dig a Pony.” (Three, if you count the “Dig It” jam, which was not without its daffy charm, but relegated to a snippet on the Spector Let It Be album. “Across the Universe” was left over from February 1968.) “Don’t Let Me Down,” a paean to Yoko, was omitted from Let It Be for reasons that remain cloudy. Rumors abound: The other Beatles resented Lennon’s attentions being diverted by his new love; the Lennons resented the other Beatles for resenting her; Spector thought the song too personal for the album. Ono would not comment. As for “Universe,” which on the new album is denuded of everything except Lennon’s voice and guitar, Harrison’s tamboura and Ringo’s kick drum, Ono says, “It is a very major song, but never had a home, so to speak, until now.”
Lennon’s singing and playing at the sessions was committed, inventive and soulful. His guitar work on “Get Back” almost makes the song, and his slide-guitar playing on Harrison’s “For You Blue” is lyrical. And both McCartney and Starr have lately said that this sad period of Beatles history was actually more upbeat than acrimonious. Ono agrees.
“One of the things that happened was the filmmaker had to put in all the bits that would be sensational as well. The sensational angle is always interesting. And people thought it was just a terrible session or something, but it wasn’t really that terrible.”
As with the original sessions, McCartney is the driving force behind the new “ex-Spectorated” version, Let It Be . . . Naked (a Ringo-ism) — which not only lacks “wall of sound” orchestra and chorus, but includes many new takes. McCartney, Starr, Ono and Olivia Harrison all signed off on the record, which was produced by Abbey Road engineers Allan Rouse, Guy Massey and Paul Hicks. None of the principals sought major changes, although some of Lennon’s vocals were given greater presence than in the original album. What might John have to say about the project being redone after (gasp) 34 years?
“I think because he had an experimental nature, he would have liked the idea of bringing out something different,” says Ono. “The original is there, it didn’t disappear. This is not an improvement, it’s a different version. Paul did not get to do this version the first time around, and it is karmically good for all of us that we are bringing this one out now.”