From the infamous 1970 Beatles documentary film “Let it Be” is the band performing the title song, done in a much rawer and intimate version than the version we all know and love, pre-Phil Spector “sweetening.” I realize this will sound like a cliche and that the Beatles are the last group of musicians on this planet who deserve belated praise, but this footage of all four Beatles performing this together towards the end of their career … with a very young Billy Preston on keyboards … really takes my breath away. I realize the Beatles, as brilliant as they are, may seem like the most overrated band in history, but it’s moments like this that really make me swallow hard and reassess. They weren’t always brilliant, but they had way more hits than misses. And the sheer quantity of great music made over an 8-year period … a very short period of time … is astonishing. And one more thing … all of these guys were 30 years of age or younger when they finally hung it up.
From 1970’s “Let it Be” album, this is another awesome Beatles song you don’t hear that much of because it’s not one of the 30 or so Beatles songs that’s played, with little variation, on most classic rock or oldies stations. At some point, I’ve been meaning to make an iTunes mix for myself of all the Beatles songs that you never hear on the radio. Why haven’t I done it? See my last entry…
The Beatles tend to run hot and cold with me. I don’t know whether it’s oversaturation or overpraise of everything they’ve ever done that sometimes rubs me raw. Please don’t get me wrong. For the 8 years that they recorded (1962-1970), the Beatles were some prolific bastards and all of their great stuff (even if it only comprises 40% of what they recorded, in my opinion) is better than what most bands have produced over twice (or even triple) the number of years. Despite that, a lot of what the Beatles recorded was merely OK. And even some of it was pretty dreadful.
But “Get Back” is a song that I’ve never ever disliked, even during those times when I’m down on the Beatles. Unlike much of what they’ve done over the years, “Get Back” just sounds like a bunch of friendly musicians kicking back and just jamming away for the hell of it. The organ fills by Billy Preston are an especially nice touch and are miles away from the funk freakouts (sometimes great, sometimes not so great) Preston did in the 1970s. It’s a song that always makes me feel better, even when I’m in a really s—ty mood.
The Replacements cover a KISS classic, circa 1984. While many people at the time probably took this to be camp, they actually do a respectful and credible job with this one and if there’s irony here, I can’t see it.
During the 1980s, the Replacements were the critics favorite that everyone thought would be the Rolling Stones to REM’s The Beatles. And if you heard 1984′s “Let it Be,” it would be hard to disagree. There’s not a bad track on the album andit wasn’t foolhardy to predict big things loomed ahead for the Placemats …… And I guess you don’t need a road map to predict what happened next. The major-label follow-up “Tim,” despite some great songs, sounded tinny and under-produced (and that’s compared to the indie “Let it Be” which even today, just crackles). The next one “Please to Meet Me” was better, but was so overproduced that it’s damn near impossible to listen to these days without wincing. They finally scored a semi-hit with the admittedly great “I’ll Be You” in 1989, but the other albums were even more hit or miss and they called it quits around 1991.
“Here Comes a Regular” is one of the highlights from “Tim” and it’s presented here in an alternate take that has more clarity, but is also rawer than the version that made it onto “Tim.” A fine example of what a great songwriter Paul Westerberg is.
CORRECTION: Forget what I said about “Tim.” This is now my favorite Replacements album. All I can say is that I was wrong … dead wrong … about the quality of “Tim.” Check it out below: