December 01, 2003 12:00 PM


The Beatles


Can an album be essential and superfluous at once? This stripped-down re-issue reveals exactly what syrup-ladling producer Phil Spector did to Let It Be when the disc fell into his hands as the band dissolved in 1970. Spector is a genius—he crafted such pop symphonies as the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby”—but he ran afoul of Paul McCartney when he turned a no-frills record into a many-frills record, notoriously adding Muzak-like violins and a female chorus (!) to “The Long and Winding Road.”

De-Spectorized, most tracks aren’t different enough to warrant buying the album again, but true fanatics will toss the original disc and bask in the purist versions of “Road” and “Across the Universe,” scrubbed of Spector’s melodrama. The man really knew how to jerk a tear, though.


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