The Beatles Rooftop Concert (Review)

The entire Rooftop Concert by The Beatles was made available to music streaming services on Jan 28th, 2022.  The IMAX showing of the concert January 30th, 2022 was a hit, with near sellouts reported across the nation.

Many fans were disappointed when the full rooftop performance was not included in the Let It Be remixed box set.  So, Giles Martin and Sam Okell have remixed the entire 40-minute concert and made it available to streaming services.  With the exception of lower quality audio bootlegs, this is the first time we can hear the entire concert without the on-street interviews of the film interrupting the songs.

The DVD/Blu-ray of the Get Back movie was originally scheduled to be released February 8th, but was delayed.  My Amazon DVD of Get Back was delivered February 28th, 2022.  The Blu-ray was released July 12th, 2022.

(Glad the guy on the far left survived!)

The concert was really a recording session, and three of the songs were repeated in order to get the best takes for the album and film.

The audio has just a little chatter between songs and a bit of minor strumming on their instruments, plus a 25-second instrumental of “God Save The Queen”.

Giles Martin had previously said the full concert wasn’t included with the box set, because it was more enjoyable with the video.  He says the strong reaction to the Get Back documentary convinced them that fans would enjoy having the audio, even with multiple takes and imperfections.  From a practical standpoint, the entire concert would have easily fit on CD 5 of the box set, which only had four songs.  However, it would have required another whole record in the vinyl box set.

It’s noteworthy that the concert is only on streaming services, and has not been made available for sale…thus avoiding more complaints about it not being included with the box set, but then charging for it separately.

These remixed rooftop recordings are a huge improvement over bootleg versions.  There are only five Beatles songs played on the rooftop, and the best versions of four of them were already included with the recent Let It Be remixed box set.  Three of those have always been on the main album…”I’ve Got A Feeling”, “One After 909”, and “Dig A Pony”.  The first rooftop take of “Don’t Let Me Down” was also included with the box set.  It’s the one where John Lennon forgets the lyrics and sings some smile-inducing gibberish instead.  If you want a corrected version, the Paul McCartney produced Let It Be…Naked album combines the best parts of the two takes done on the rooftop.

A song from the rooftop recordings that was not actually on Let It Be is “Get Back”.  The version used on the album was a studio recording with some added rooftop chatter to make it seem like it was part of the concert.  You get three takes of “Get Back” with the new streaming concert.  Take 2 is probably the best.  The final take is the one where Paul McCartney ad-libs about getting arrested for playing on the roof.

It’s quite a feat of musicianship and audio engineering that recordings from a rooftop could sound this good.  It’s great to finally have all of the versions of the songs that were played during the last live performance of The Beatles.

Just For Fun Extra:  Inspired by Paul McCartney using the two live versions of “Don’t Let Me Down” to form one good version, I decided to edit together the best possible version of “Get Back” from the three rooftop performances (using GarageBand).  I started with Lennon’s silly pre-song comment  “…but she was a frying pan”, then used the first half of “Get Back” Take 1 (through “Get back Jo”).  Next came the second half of Take 2, followed by the “arrested” ending segment from Take 3, which also has the “…passed the audition” joke.  It sounds good, and is probably close to what they would have done if they had wanted to only use live performances for the concert material on Let It Be.  The album could have started with the hit studio version of “Get Back”, and ended with this live version:

Here’s a reimagined Let It Be song order, beginning with the “Get Back” single followed by five more great studio recordings.  Side two starts with the live-in-studio “Two Of Us”, and then has the five live rooftop performances.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *