One After 909 - On first hearing this song, I could have sworn I'd heard it before. I hadn't, of course, but the reason it sounded familiar is because it comes from the earliest days of the Beatles. Lennon says it was one of the first songs he ever wrote and, in fact, the group had recorded it way back on March 5th, 1963 at the same session which produced their third single From Me To You b/w Thank You, Girl. Anthology 1 presents a sequence of takes from that session, giving a good indication of why it wasn't released at the time. The tempo is slow and George's guitar solos are definitely lacking in quality. The Let It Be version is played at a brisk pace at the rooftop concert, with the band giving a truly inspired performance. John and Paul's shared vocal reveals the true joy of the moment, keyboardist Billy Preston plays some tasty licks and George's solo is impeccable.
The Long and Winding Road - Despite the controversy surrounding the released version of this recording, there is no denying that this composition by McCartney is magnificent, combining his usual innate sense of a great melody with some of the finest lyrics he ever wrote. I once again have to wonder, as I did with the single Let It Be, how he could let this song lie unreleased for so long. On Anthology 3, the basic January 31st, 1969 performance by the Beatles and Billy Preston is presented. Phil Spector decided the recording needed a massive orchestra and choir, so he overdubbed both on April 1st, 1970. According to all reports, this was the last straw for Paul, resulting in the actual demise of the group.
Under manager Allen Klein's new agreement with Capitol Records, the American label was able to release this song as a single a week before the album came out, giving the Beatles their twentieth number one in the US during their career.
For You Blue - The Beatles only worked on this Harrison number for one day during the sessions, but it made the cut for the album, probably because of its playful quality. Paul plays honkytonk piano and John tackles a slide guitar. A different take appears on Anthology 3; the liner notes on that CD also indicate that George overdubbed a new vocal onto the album version on January 8th, 1970.
Capitol Records chose this song for the B-side of the single The Long and Winding Road.
Get Back - McCartney's original title song for these sessions had been released as a single a year earlier than this album. Spector used the same performance as that single minus its coda, but surrounded it with chatter from the rooftop, creating the illusion that this was a different take. The album (and the group's career) ends appropriately with John's comment "...I hope we passed the audition."
Paul's solo album McCartney was released in April of 1970, against the wishes of manager Allen Klein and the other Beatles. They had tried to persuade Paul to delay his release, fearing that it would hurt sales of Let It Be. Not only did an angry Paul ignore their pleas, but he issued a press release which stated, in effect, that the Beatles were no more. Instead of hurting sales, this announcement produced a great deal of anticipation among fans. Knowing that it would be the final release, advance orders in the US alone reached 3.7 million. It was released worldwide in May of 1970.
A final irony - though some of the songs bore little resemblance to the way they were actually performed in the film Let It Be, the album earned the Beatles an Oscar for best soundtrack.