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3.8 out of 5 stars
Let It Be Roberta - Roberta Flack Sings The Beatles
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2012
I was shocked when I began listening to Let It Be Roberta. What a let down! I've loved her piano and vocals since the early 1970s. The Beatles have been a part of my life since 1964. I anticipated a beautiful musical meeting. This cd is a disaster. I don't know who Sherrod Barnes is, but according to the credits, he's responsible for a lion's share of the production, arranging, and instrumental work on these sessions. The guy doesn't have a clue about how to help shape an artist's vision in order to accentuate her talents. The musical recasting of these classic songs with boring electronic beats, insipid background vocals, and canned instrumental ideas is a shame. Even the recorded quality of Ms. Flacks vocals is tinny and hollow. The cruelest aspect of the the project is the inclusion of a 1972 Carnegie Hall performance of Ms. Flack singing "Here There, and Everywhere" supported by her playing acoustic piano. It's a gorgeous performance, and it further highlights the terrible job Brown did in conceiving and executing this Beatles cover project. I wish Ms. Flack could get a "do over" and go back into the studio and re-record these songs with an acoustic piano and classy jazz ensemble of acoustic bass, a real drummer who can deliver some tasty brushwork, a good guitarist, and possibly a trumpet and/or saxophone. That would make Roberta Flack and Beatles songs a winning combination.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2012
It has a perfect blend of songs that offer familiar as well as new sounds. Great original, unpredictable interpretation of the Beatles.
I LOVE IT!! Music that can be enjoyed by the whole family, young & old.
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2012
I LOVE Roberta Flack, and have since high school. Chapter Two is one of the greatest albums of ALL TIME! In amassing a collection of every album she has ever done, I have looked forward to her putting her stamp of other'' songs. "Bridge Over Troubled Water", "You've Got a Friend" and the inimitable "You are Everything" are milestones on several of her works. All great originals, made even better by her soulful plaintive downright angelic voice.

When I read in The New York Times that she was working on this album, I was filed with anticipation. Working with some of the best material in the past fifty years, I was contemplating a double or even a triple album! But what a disappointment this is! It seems as though the pull towards MOR and Pop (which I guess started in the Killing Me Softly album) has taken her over. "In My Life" and "Hey Jude" highlight a Bubblegum sound which here seems to have overcome her wonderful voice. "Jude" is a light, happy sort of song of no consequence. And with nothing even approaching "Nah-Nah-Nah-Na-Na-Na-Nah, Nah-Na-Na-Na, Heyyyyyy Jude" final three minutes of the Beatles' Opus, it sounds here like the song ended in the middle.

"Let it Be" opens with the words,"when I find myself in times of trouble..." But it sounds like Roberta has never seen a troubling day. It makes me long for the voice that wailed "Jesse come home, there's a hole in the bed"?). Like "We Can Work It Out", another deep and soulful song, in this version totally lacking any depth or emotion. Ditto "The Long and Winding Road": another tug-at-the-heart-strings kinda song. Sadly, she fails to tug on anything in this elevator-music version. It makes one realize how emoting McCartney actually was back in the day.

Save the money. Better yet, invest in her first three or four albums.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2012
Beatles + Roberta Flack?!? What could be better?!?

These tracks are stunning, seriously. Roberta breathes new life into these Beatles classics and makes them all her own. First single, We Can Work It Out is fantastic, but In My Life is hands-down my favorite. This is the perfect gift for Valentine's Day!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2012
I liked Roberta Flack's recordings from the 1970s, although her voice was reedy and thin. Age has only increased this quality. With the backing electronic "layering", she sounds more like a child's plastic recorder than a clarinet here. I kept having to skip forward to the next song after about two minutes. Finally, at track 12, simple piano, clear voice. Redemption of the concept? Nope. The last track was recorded live at Carnegie Hall in 1974- before beat boxes and synths so simple they sound like a pushbutton phone became de rigeur like they obviously were the last time Ms. Flack listened to current music.
This album isn't going to make new fans of anyone for Roberta Flack or The Beatles but it may cost them some. I'd encourage you to listen to the samples carefully before you buy this.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2012
A beautiful, sometimes radical re-imagining of some of the Beatles classics (and one by George) by one of the great voices of our time. Highly recommended.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2012
I'm enjoying listening to the new Roberta for several reasons, including the difficult ones:

First impression is that although some of the arrangements are challenging in ways that I'm not taken with initially, when I consider the musicians involved and what it's about I learn to appreciate it; I become educated. It's not that I'm being a Beatle snob about it, rather at first listen I feel some difficulty with some choices for which I blame on the production mainly, that is the producer. I don't always like the imprint of the producer on her musicianship, and also the background voices at times. Sometimes I selfishly only want to hear her voice and no one elses, as one who is a Babs fanatic would want. I don't want anything clouding my ability to hear the purity and honest integrity of her voice and heart. However, the work required to create this recording is apparent, it's a lot of hard work and time to get this result. I certainly couldn't do what she does without being completely consumed and devoted to it 24/7 and I doubt I would get such successful results. I'm not disappointed, I just have to work a little to understand some of her choices, and that's a good thing too because it brings more dimension to the listener's appreciation than simply digesting something without having to even chew it to savor it. That's the sign that differentiates it from pop music to art. I felt the very same way at first with some Beatle records on my first listening. Curious, the parallel.

As the album plays through its entirety, I understand the breadth of style and expression she undertook with the whole project and those first impressions that didn't grab me at first become more coherent and enjoyable. Also, there are many arrangements that really move me: `Yesterday', `Here There...','If I fell', `And I love him' (possibly the most forward looking arrangement). What is truly amazing is how she can completely change the melody of these songs and not change the feeling or how we already understand the songs, e.g. `I'm looking through you'. Of course the one track that made me stop in my tracks and forget to breathe was the live Carnegie track from 1972. Astonishing. I wish she still used the piano the way that she once did, you can really hear her classical training in it, and it's so deeply Jazz, her singing and arranging and feeling. Perhaps she felt it would sound stuck in the past if she did an entire album like that now. Listening to the span of styles of the recording paints a representation of time and style changes, which keeps it relevant.

And here's proof of her ability to keep the songs relevant and also turn my ear to hear something differently...because of the way she sings the end of `Come Together', I just now, at the age of 54 understood what the title means; it now seems to me as if it's about John being frustrated telling the leaders and the common man of the world at the time to pull together and work together to make the world better, c'mon people, get it together, come together. Roberta took `We can work it out' and made it encouraging to work things out, rather than just plead for it to be so and hope it will be. She made the message motivational.

The more I listen to the recording and literally let it be, no pun intended, it speaks to me. She amazes me. It's no easy task to reinvent songs that everyone in nearly every corner of the world is so familiar with, so much so that they are practically written in stone in every one's imagination. She can turn a melody in a new direction, and still the original aspect is intact, and if it divulges in another direction, it's very exciting to follow it and still have those touchstone moments where the notes we expect do finally appear in the melody and reassure us of it's familiarity which encourages us to sing along with it in our hearts, for we're not lost in following her, but we're definitely following her. She enables you to trust her and listen and follow. Despite how overly familiar I am with `Yesterday' her version made my eyes well up. The fact that I can go on to this extent of analysis and insight about the recording speaks volumes for it's successful result and artistry.

I read an interview at Huffington Post and you can really tell how seriously she takes her art. That means so much to me, because I have always felt great responsibility and seriousness about my abilities as well, and about art. She talked about the importance of inspiration. I respect how humble she is about her gifts.

I am so grateful to the few musicians like her that do what they do to keep music alive. And to be able to do it at 75...amazing.

Thank you Roberta, you did the boys good, but more importantly, you did it your way, and you did Roberta good in the process; we the listeners got both. Giving the listener those two aspects simultaneously is damn near impossible, unless the artist really knows who they are and what the music is, and they can coexist in harmony. No easy feat. How fortunate she is to live what she loves. And she works damn hard on it, for our benefit.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2012
I sadly must agree with the rating and review written by RHC"bobsjazz." When I imagined Roberta Flack singing Beatles songs I did NOT imagine something that sounded more like elevator music. I vote for a "Do Over" as well!

Wolfhound Deb
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2012
....if you're a Beatles OR a Roberta Flack fan. I love Flack and the Beatles but she's butchered their songs. She didn't stay true to the melodies or the beat. Too much hip-hop, jazz overtone. If I could return it I would.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2012
Loved Roberta's voice. But it's gone. The only songs on here that suit her now-limited range are a couple with arrangements that are reminiscent of bossa nova. Those aren't great - they're just the least bad of a bad lot.

And the arrangements, mixing, production quality in general are just lousy. These songs have backup vocals that remind me of nothing so much as Muzak-style elevator music. From Roberta Flack! Nooooooo, say it ain't so!

The overreliance on synthesizer, beat-box drums, etc. simply adds to the Muzak quality of this CD.

Only a real Roberta completist will want this dog.
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