Originally conceived as a return to their roots, the album and the film that became "Let it Be" would be the Beatles final release in 1970. Filming took place in January of 1969, The idea was that the band would be filmed making their newest record, playing live in the studio. Again, it was McCartney's idea that if they could just be a band again, as they had been in the beginning, they could move forward.
Lots of things made these sessions difficult besides the general tensions and conflicts that arose during the making of "The White Album". First they were filming first thing in the morning. The Beatles generally did their best work coming in late in the day and leaving in the early morning. Secondly they were out of their element. Twickenham, the London studio where they were shooting was not Abbey Road. It was cold and drafty. And of course the lights and camera's on them constantly didn't help. Later in the month, shooting was moved to Apple's Studios and George Harrison had recruited Billy Preston to round out the band and complete the now famous roof-top live show.
Originally intended for release in June of 1969, under the name "Get Back" the result was something that all of the Beatles would have been pleased to walk away from. George Martin did walk away, refusing to produce a final album from the hours and hours of music having been recorded. Glyn Johns did prepare several final mixes with different song sequences that the group ultimately rejected and the project was shelved. in December of 1969.
The album now known as "Let it Be" was given to Phil Spector to complete production duties. It was released in early May of 1970 along with the film. Specter did what Specter is known for - adding his "wall of sound" to a number of the tracks. His version of "Long and Winding Road" infuriated McCartney with it's huge orchestration and angelic choir. In 2003, "Let it Be - Naked" was released restoring the original stripped down version of the recording.
The film which was intended to capture a "back-to-basics" resurgent Beatles came to be known as documentary of the bands break-up. Tension ran high, in particular between McCartney and Harrison. Lennon seems generally disengaged throughout focusing on Yoko who was usually no more than a few feet away throughout the sessions. McCartney overcompensates in his attempt to bring his reluctant band mates together appearing overbearing and even condescending at times. In retrospect it might have been desparation.
I didn't see the film when it came out - story to follow. But did finally see it in the late 70's. Again, at some mid-night screening in the Bedford Mall. I remember leaving the theatre sad at how hard it had become for the Beatles to be the Beatles. That they went on to write, record and complete Abbey Road seemed even more astounding too me.