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COUNTERPUNCH

'Naked's' necessity isn't the point

November 24, 2003|Rip Rense

"Is it necessary?" asks Randy Lewis in his thoughtful review of the Beatles' newly released "Let It Be ... Naked" ("Why Get Back to 'Let It Be'?" Nov. 10). Here's an answer: No.

It is necessary to eat, sleep, visit the men's (or ladies') room once in a while, and advance all the way into the intersection when making a left turn. But that's about it. "Let it Be ... Naked" is not necessary.

Of course, neither is the Chopin "Devil's Trill" prelude reconstructed last year by professor Jeffrey Kallberg of the University of Pennsylvania music department -- the first "new" Chopin music in 150 years. Neither is the new version of a Mozart Mass just restored by professor Phil Wilby of Leeds University.

No, no, this is not to equate Mozart and Chopin with the Beatles. But it is to equate their necessity, or lack of same. Cookies are not necessary; neither are poodles or nose-piercings or the director's cut of "Alien" or the forthcoming "Pink Panther" movie with Steve Martin or even Walt Disney Concert Hall. This article is not necessary.

But a lot of people like poodles and nose-piercings and director's cuts. Some might even like this article. Here's a more germane question, as raised in another review of "Let It Be ... Naked," by the Christian Science Monitor's Lynn Margolis:

"Is art ever really finished?"

It's a rhetorical question, but famed music writer Dave Marsh is quoted in the same review with a logical answer: "Artists may go back and revise their work," he says, adding, "this will not reflect the incompleteness of the work. It will reflect ... new information processed in the artist's mind and spirit."

And so it is with "Let It Be ... Naked" -- new information from the minds and spirits of what is easily the most important and beloved music group of the last 50 years. How lovely it is, then, to have cookies and "director's cuts" and, yes, new Beatles music. (Nose-piercings remain open to question.)

Even Lewis apparently realizes this, since he pronounces "Naked" superior to the existing "Let It Be" album, all dressed up in choirs and orchestras by Phil Spector.

Which makes his posing the question of this album's necessity so entirely ... unnecessary.

*

Rip Rense is a contributing editor to Beatlefan magazine. He lives in Los Angeles.

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