Harrison-Shankar “Collaborations” – Unboxing

Our copy of the George Harrison/Ravi Shankar box set “Collaborations” has just arrived. The first thing to say about it is that it’s much bigger than we’d expected it to be from the photos and info on the web so far.

Here’s a shot of the box alongside the 1997 release of the standard “Chants of India” CD so that you can get an idea of the scale:

“Collaborations” box – size comparison

There’s a stick-on label on the plastic shrink-wrap which sums up what you will find inside:

After the plastic shrink wrap comes off you discover that this is a very solid, richly embossed green-coloured box. It’s a bit like the Beatles “Remastered” stereo box set in that it has a magnetic clasp on the right-hand side that allows the box “lid” to flip out and open:

Once you have the box open the first thing you see is your individually numbered “Certificate of Authenticity” and a white ribbon that helps lift out the contents below very neatly:

These box sets are Limited Editions and this one is number 13486. Here’s a close-up of the certificate:

Immediately underneath the certificate is a beautiful hardback book with a foreword written by composer Philip Glass; then George Harrison and Ravi Shankar talk about their collaborations together in a section called “In Their Own Words”.  This is followed by descriptions of the three CDs and the DVD; there’s some information about George’s Material World Charitable Foundation; an insight into Indian music by Ravi Shankar (along with drawings and descriptions of the Indian musical instruments used on the albums); information about and photographs of the individual artists who perform on each disc. Then there’s a glossary of terms, and finally the album and production credits.

This book is beautifully produced – clearly it has been put together with a great deal of care and there are many really special glossy photographs included throughout:

After the hardcover book come the albums themselves. And these are a surprise as they are each housed in over-sized cardboard covers that are about 8 1/2 inches (or 21 cms) square. They are “Chants of India”:

Then comes “Music Festival From India”:

Then “Shankar Family and Friends”:

And finally the concert DVD, “Ravi Shankar’s Music Festival From India”:

The CDs all replicate the original LP artwork faithfully. Again, here’s a comparison photograph with a cover from the box set alongside a standard CD so you can get an idea of the size of the box set covers:

That’s the standard “Chants of India” CD on the right, compared to the box set version behind. Each of the CDs in the 2010 box are held in special, thick cardboard inserts:

On the flip-side of each of these cardboard CD holders is a large Dark Horse Records logo:

And inside each CD cover there’s also an accompanying folded paper insert with information about the recording. This is the one for “Chants of India”:

The great part about this set is that both “Shankar Family and Friends” and  “Music Festival From India” are being released for the first time ever on CD, and the DVD “Music Festival From India” is previously unreleased.

In conclusion then, for me this is a very interesting, limited-edition box set. For many Beatle collectors George Harrison’s excursions into the exotic world of Indian music and culture lie on the outer edges of  their musical tastes, but for others this forms an essential part of their collections. We really enjoy Indian music and having a connection to it through George makes this set very special – just like this photograph [by Carolyn Jones] which appears on the final page of the book:

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Harrison/Shankar – “Collaborations” Announced

And so, the ever-growing list of forthcoming releases swells with yet another interesting title….

George Harrison’s Dark Horse Records has just announced a new box-set package called “Collaborations”. And yes, it too is coming in October.

From the official press release:

Dark Horse Records announced today the October 19th release of a limited edition deluxe box set, entitled “RAVI SHANKAR GEORGE HARRISON – COLLABORATIONS“. The release honors the sitar master’s 90th birthday.

“Collaborations” is a 3 CD and 1 DVD uniquely numbered limited edition box set. All compositions were composed by Ravi Shankar and produced by George Harrison over a period of 20 years.

The DVD is a rare concert performance of the Ravi Shankar’s “Music Festival From India”, recorded at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1974. The albums include the acclaimed “Chants Of India” (1997), “The Ravi Shankar Music Festival From India” (studio version 1976), and “Shankar Family & Friends” (1974). The 56-page book includes a foreword by Philip Glass, a history of George and Ravi “in their own words”, and rare photographs from both family archives.

"Chants of India" - original cover (1997)

"Music Festival from India" - original cover (1976)

"Shankar Family and Friends" - original cover (1974)

The official website has the full press release. Steve Marinucci has details in his Examiner column, and Wog Blog also has information on his site.

I could be wrong, but I think this is the first time that “The Ravi Shankar Music Festival From India” and “Shankar Family & Friends” have been issued on CD.

Speaking of Ravi Shankar, the master sitar player (who had such an influence on George Harrison and the Beatles) has embarked on a huge archival project of his own – with a series of discs being released on his East Meets West label.

The first in the series is a single disc CD titled “Nine Decades, Vol. 1: 1967-1968”:

"Nine Decades" - out now

The next release in the series will be the soundtrack to the movie “Raga” – which was originally issued on Apple Records in 1971 and features George Harrison. Details about the release schedule so far is here, and it looks like the “Raga” release will be a CD and DVD double which is good.

"Raga" - original cover (1971)

“Raga” is due in the “American fall” – which is a bit vague but I guess that could mean yet another October release?

October is going to be one very expensive month for us die-hard, complete-ist collectors. We’ll have to put out hands in pockets for the 70th birthdate Lennon “Gimme Some Truth” material; the remastered Apple Records catalogue; the Shankar/Harrison “Collaborations”, and “Raga” now as well. That’s not to mention “Band on the Run”, the first of the Paul McCartney re-issues on Concord Records that is due sometime in August…..