The new Super Deluxe edition of The Beatles’ final album Let It Be kicks off a bonanza of unseen and unheard material, including a new stereo mix of the original album, 27 previously unreleased session recordings, a four-track Let It Be EP, and the never released 14-track Get Back mix by engineer Glyn Johns from May 1969.
Alongside this treasure trove comes the three-part documentary The Beatles: Get Back, directed by Peter Jackson, and a tie-in hardback book.
Here, we pick 10 great previously unreleased moments from the box set that shed new light on the guitar music of the greatest band of all time.
1. Can You Dig It? (Jam)
On the original Let It Be album, we got a 51-second snippet of a Beatles jam called Dig It, more of an audio link than a song. This had been cut from a 15-minute improvisation which the band revisited later, presumably intending to develop it into something more.
Here we get another two minutes from a different day’s recording. Now called Can You Dig It?, the track includes more lyrics and some wild slide guitar playing by John Lennon.
2. Please Please Me... Again (Rehearsal)
The original plan for the project had been for the Beatles to ‘get back’ to their old way of recording, with live performances and no overdubs.
Perhaps that’s what prompts an impromptu slowed down piano-led rendition of Please Please Me, the band’s first number one single, with George Harrison experimenting with lead guitar accompaniment.
Like many ideas that came up during the sessions, this didn’t lead to anything, but it’s a tantalising glimpse of a revisited Beatles classic.
3. Something (Rehearsal)
Lead guitarist George Harrison’s greatest love song appeared on the Abbey Road album, recorded later in 1969. Now we get further insight into the band’s compositional process, with some studio chat revealing Harrison working on the song.
Stuck on a line in the lyrics, he appeals to his more experienced songwriting bandmates: ‘I can’t think what she attracted me like.’ ‘Cauliflower’ and ‘pomegranate’ are briefly considered, but fortunately he later came up with the much improved ‘no other lover’ and a classic was born.
4. Let It Be (Take 28)
When the world first heard this classic Beatles ballad, the band’s last official single in March 1970, it featured a good solo by George Harrison. Good, but not great. In fact, Harrison recorded a few different versions of the solo, and it was a superior lead guitar break that graced the album version released in May 1970.
The boxset features both these versions, along with previously unreleased takes. Take 28 has more attack than the single version, offering another perspective on George’s note choices and solo construction.
5. One After 909 (Take 3)
This spirited rocker is another resurrected early song, originally written by Lennon in his teens, before the Beatles were formed. On this rehearsal take, Billy Preston kicks up a storm on acoustic piano, while George Harrison experiments with his guitar sound and figures out his lines, playing more of a supporting role.
It’s less energetic in pace than the rooftop version that made the album release, but there are some inspirational guitar flourishes and a raunchy one-note burst in the break.
6. She Came In Through The Bathroom Window (Rehearsal)
An early rehearsal of this unfinished song, which never made it to the Let It Be album but turned up as part of the epic medley on the latter half of the Abbey Road album. The tempo is slower than the version we know and love.
John plays electric piano, while George plays the chord sequence using his Fender Telecaster through a Leslie speaker, before switching on his wah-wah and experimenting with some tasteful lead licks.
7. I Me Mine (Rehearsal)
The first of two George Harrison compositions on Let It Be was recorded in 1970, but the boxset reveals the moment he first introduced it to the group during rehearsals a year earlier.
The 3/4 accompaniment was developed by George after hearing Kaiser-Waltz by Johann Strauss II on the soundtrack to a television show. At this stage, he’d yet to develop the punchy rock ’n’ roll bridge in 4/4, instead playing a more flamenco-inspired rhythm guitar passage between the verses.
8. Octopus’s Garden (Rehearsal)
Ringo plays the band his idea for a new song, going through the basic four-chord sequence, with just one verse written at this point. Then we hear George Harrison work up some ideas for developing it further, ideas which never made it to the final recording on Abbey Road.
It’s clear George Harrison helped finish the song, but he graciously gave Ringo the sole songwriting credit when the track appeared fully formed a year later.
9. For You Blue (Take 4)
George Harrison’s first ever 12-bar blues composition is revealed in a wonderfully raw early take. In this version, Harrison plays with more attack on the acoustic guitar intro, using a capo at the 5th fret on his Gibson J-200.
For the first time on a group recording, John Lennon plays some lively improvised variations on slide guitar, using a Hofner Hawaiian Standard lap-steel tuned to D7.
10. Teddy Boy (Rehearsal)
An early run-through of a song that didn’t get taken any further by the band, and ended up being reworked by McCartney for his first post-Beatles solo album. While McCartney later claimed the band didn’t seem interested, we get to hear some of the lead guitar ideas being developed by George Harrison over Paul’s acoustic chords.
It’s a fascinating insight into how they developed ideas together, and hints at the direction the song might have taken had the Beatles continued to work on it.