The Beatles: Let It Be super deluxe edition (Apple/Universal, 5 CDs + Blu-ray). While good, The Beatles’ final album, recorded when the band was starting to break up and released on May 8, 1970, about a month after the actual break-up, was not their best album. Most would vote for “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” or “Abbey Road” as that. The album, however, does contain the classics “Let It Be,” “The Long and Winding Road” and “Get Back,” as well as the darn good “Two of Us,” “Across the Universe” and “I’ve Got a Feeling.”

This new box set, the last in a string of special editions covering the band’s final albums, contains a wonderful new mix of the original album by Giles Martin, son of George Martin, who produced 13 of The Beatles’ album but not “Let It Be,” and engineer Sam Okell. The second disc consists of 14 tracks, including five bits of studio chatter, from the recording sessions, while disc three has eight rehearsal recordings for the live rooftop show, the basis of the “Let It Be” live documentary, and three studio jams. Disc four is the previously-unreleased Glyn Johns mix of the alternate “Get Back” album, with additions of “Don’t Let Me Down” and “Teddy Boy,” plus a different version of “Dig It,” here called “Dig It Up.” The final CD is a four-song EP, highlighted by Johns’ mixes of “Across the Universe” – without the strings and backing choir added by album producer Phil Spector – and “I Me Mine.”

The Blu-ray contains the remixed original album in Dolby Atmos, 5.1 surround and PCM stereo. The set also comes with a 100-page, hardcover book with in-depth essays, track-by-track recording information and a forward by Paul McCartney, who admits he did not like some of the flourishes Spector added to the original record.

Of the original album, the first two songs were about relationships. McCartney was writing about himself and new bride Linda on “Two of Us,” and he and John Lennon were singing like the Everly Brothers, who they had long admired. Lennon wrote “Dig a Pony” about his love for Yoko Ono. For “Across the Universe,” Lennon used a swirl of elemental images. One of George Harrison’s two contributions, “I Me Mine,” quickly turns into a retro rocker. The band liked “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” and built “Dig It” around one of the show’s stock, repeated phrases. Billy Preston’s organ and McCartney’s piano highlight “Let It Be,” written about McCartney’s dreams of his dead mother. Harrison contributes wonderful guitar to the song.

There is skiffle-like fun in “Maggie Mae,” while the rocker “I’ve Got a Feeling” was a melding of two individual songs by McCartney and Lennon, something they did frequently. “One After 909,” which has an early rock style, actually was written way back in 1960. For “The Long and Winding Road,” McCartney said he tried to sing the song the way Ray Charles would have. Harrison’s other song is the simple “For You Blue.” The album ends with the driving “Get Back,” with reference to Sweet Loretta Marsh, a noted drag queen.

Of interest on the Apple Sessions disc are the fun bit of “Fancy My Chances With You” at the end of “Maggie Mae”; the longish instrumental opening to “Dig It”; “Please Please Me” stuck in between two tries at “Let It Be”; a long laughing bit near the end of “Get Back”; and a little of “Wake Up Little Susie” before “I Me Mine.” These show how sometimes they would play a little of an oldie before tackling their new song. The disc also has nice tries at “I’ve Got a Feeling” and “Dig a Pony,” while “Don’t Let Me Down” is from the rooftop performance.

The rehearsal disc has the band performing Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass,” Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth” and an extemporaneous “Concentrate on the Sound.” There is a lot of studio chatter around “Octopus’s Garden” and Preston sings “Without a Song,” one of the three jams. The other two jams are “Oh! Darling” and “The Walk.” Throughout this disk, one can hear how much fun the lads had when making music together.

Disc four’s unreleased album version includes some more studio chatter, including during the rock medley of “I’m Ready (aka Rocker)/ Save the Last Dance for Me/ Don’t Let Me Down.” Of the non-“Let It Be” album tracks, “Don’t Let Me Down” was originally a single B-side and “Teddy Boy” was a song that McCartney viewed as only half-finished. “Dig It Up” has more of a Caribbean beat than the “Dig It” album version. The disc five EP, in addition to Johns’ mixes of “Across the Universe” and “I Me Mine,” has new mixes of the single versions of “Don’t Let Me Down” and “Let It Be.”

The sessions that brought about the “Let It Be” album and film represent the only time in The Beatles’ career that they were documented at such great length while creating music in the studio. More than 60 hours of unreleased film footage, more than 150 hours of unreleased audio recordings, and hundreds of unpublished photographs have been newly explored and meticulously restored for three complementary and definitive Beatles releases this fall. This new special edition of the album is joined by “The Beatles: Get Back,” the eagerly-anticipated documentary series directed by three-time Oscar-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson, and a new hardcover book, also titled “The Beatles: Get Back.”

“I had always thought the original film ‘Let It Be’ was pretty sad as it dealt with the break-up of our band, but the new film shows the camaraderie and love the four of us had between us,” McCartney writes in his foreword for the special edition book. “It also shows the wonderful times we had together, and combined with the newly remastered ‘Let It Be’ album, stands as a powerful reminder of this time. It’s how I want to remember The Beatles.” Grade: box set A

Ian Jones: The Evergreens (Thin Silver Records, CD). This is a new six-song EP by the formerly Seattle-based singer-songwriter whose last full-length album was 2019’s “Results Not Typical.” The acoustic title track, and lead single, is about his moving from Seattle to Southern California to chase his dreams, but resulting in him missing his friends. The disc’s two best songs follow: “Born Again Sinner” is more forceful and was inspired by a new social media friend from Montana, who is battling alcohol and used the song’s title to describe herself; and “Liars, Criminals, Beggars and Thieves,” which has a bit of the Sixties Laurel Canyon sound and is about politics and politicians. The hopeful, acoustic “Hallelujah” was written on Christmas Eve 2018 after a “year of loss and brutality.” The disc closes with the upbeat, countryish “Last Call,” which features harmonica and pedal steel. Grade: B+

Hawkwind: Somnia (Cherry Red Records, CD, 62:52). This is Hawkwind’s 34th album over a 50-year recording span. Ten of the 13 tracks are written by mainstay Dave Brock, now 80 and the only remaining original member. Two are written by Magnus Martin and they co-wrote the other song. Both Brock and Martin sing and play guitar, bass and keyboards, with Brock also handling the synthesizers. The album’s overall theme has to do with sleep and, thus, it is often more ethereal than the space rock Hawkwind initially was heavily into. Due to the pandemic lockdown, the band members had to record their parts individually, which were then mixed together in the studio.

Martin’s “Unsomnia,” which opens the disc and runs for 10:20, is about alien abduction fear, as he sings, “There is a tap on my shoulder/ I’ve been waiting for this for years/ Oh me they’re coming to get me.” The song’s backing is shimmery and spacey, while its ending is dreamy and nice, with the barely-heard sounds of a radio broadcast. “Strange Encounters” has a space rock opening, then talks about dreams and keeps asking, “Are you dreaming?” Martin then offers the simple, acoustic ballad “Alcyone.” The battle for sleep returns in “Counting Sheep.”

“China Blues” (7:22) appears to be about the Covid-19 pandemic. The music gurgles ominously, turns really dark five minutes in and then ends with hypnotic drumming by Richard Chadwick, the third group member. “It’s Only a Dream” is a more conventional rocker, while “Meditation” is an instrumental using Indian instruments. It is back to menace with the short “Sweet Dreams” as it features a no-emotion vocal. “I Can’t Get You Off My Mind” is a rocker, with a spacey, soaring background and a sudden a cappella ending. Appropriately spacey is “Small Objects in Space,” while the album closes with “Cave of Phantom Dreams,” back to the album’s main theme with spacey music and recitation. Grade: B

Tom Von Malder of Owls Head has reviewed music since 1972, just after graduation from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He has reviewed videos/DVDs since 1988.