Recording: Let It Be – The Beatles’ last recording session as a group

Studio two, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Phil McDonald

Although there were two further recording sessions for the Let It Be album involving just one member of The Beatles, this was their last time recording as a group – albeit without John Lennon.

Having completed I Me Mine the previous day, The Beatles turned their attentions to Paul McCartney‘s song Let It Be.

They taped a series of overdubs onto take 27, the basic track which had been laid down on 31 January 1969. First to be recorded on this day was a bass guitar part, with McCartney replacing Lennon’s original effort on track four.

Two trumpets, two trombones and a tenor saxophone were recorded onto track five by session musicians, as was McCartney’s descending piano motifs in between chorus and verses.

Three reduction mixes were then made to free up space on the multitrack tape. These mixes were labelled takes 28-30; as they were being made, a simultaneous overdub on track five of brass and woodwind double-tracked the previous recording. Cellos, again played by session musicians, were also added during the reduction mixes to track two.

McCartney, his wife Linda and George Harrison triple-tracked some high harmony vocals. These were initially recorded onto track seven; an unnumbered mix bounced this onto track four, and while it was made they recorded the second set of harmonies. A final mix saw the third lot of vocals added once again to track seven, along with the previous sets. This track also contained the guitar solo recorded on 30 April 1969, which was used on the Let It Be single.

The final recording saw Harrison add lead guitar, including a new solo, onto track four, along with maracas by McCartney and extra drums by Starr. This solo can be heard on the Let It Be album.

Two stereo mixes of the song were then made. Glyn Johns, who produced many of the Let It Be recordings, was present at the session. To compile his latest version of the Get Back album, he took away the new Let It Be mixes, along with the multitrack tape of I Me Mine from the previous day.

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3 responses on “Recording: Let It Be – The Beatles’ last recording session as a group

  1. GeorgeTSimpson

    So if paul really re-recorded the bass and he, george and linda re-recorded the harmony vocals, john isn’t on the song let it be, is he?

  2. John Janecek

    I believe Glyn Johns took these tapes and added them to his second incarnation of “Get Back”… Spector, in April, was given control, and reverted to the original tapes with some additions. This allowed him full manipulation of where he felt things should be, or where it recording abilities allowed. John does, indeed, play the ‘bass’ on “Let It Be”. It was a poor choice, as John bass playing sounds like crap.

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