Shankar Family ૐ Friends to get an Audiophile Release

The 1974 Dark Horse Records title Shankar Family ૐ Friends is to get an audiophile vinyl pressing in 2022.

The Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs site has it listed only as “Coming Soon” so far – but it will be on 180 gram vinyl under their Original Master Recording imprint. This will be the first time the record has been re-issued on vinyl since 1974.

An album by Indian master musician Ravi Shankar, Shankar Family ૐ Friends was recorded primarily in Los Angeles during the spring of 1973, but not released until late 1974. It features a host of top-flight Indian players.

The album was produced by George Harrison and also features western musicians like Tom Scott, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Klaus Voormann, Nicky Hopkins and Jim Keltner. It was last re-issued on CD in 2010 as part of the Collaborations box set. Check out our unboxing here.

What is a little confusing is that on the MoFi website the release is listed as being a 180 gram numbered single LP, while in the Music Direct store catalogue it says it will be a 180 gram, 45rpm 2LP pressing…..

Dark Horse to Release Billy Idol Christmas LP

Dark Horse Records have struck again – this time with another Billy Idol release.

Just in August the label, now headed by George Harrison’s son Dhani, issued a new four-song EP by Idol called The Roadside.

Now comes a remixed and remastered version of the singer’s 2006 Christmas album, Happy Holidays. It the first time the disc has been on vinyl and streaming platforms.

As the title suggests, Happy Holidays features Idol performing a variety of Christmas classics as well as one new original called ‘On Christmas Day’ as a bonus track.

It’s available on limited edition white vinyl (now sold out):

Happy Holidays is also on standard black vinyl. It comes in a gatefold sleeve and is available now:

And it’s also available on CD:

We think it’s interesting and a little unusual that Dark Horse is taking artists like Billy Idol under their wing and are releasing a mix of new and back-catalogue music like this. Maybe it’s just not what we expected would happen when the revamp of Dark Horse was first announced. What do you think?

Just as an FYI, for Record Store Day Black Friday this year the label will be issuing another 12″ single taken from Assembly, the Joe Strummer ‘Best Of’ compilation that Dark Horse released earlier this year. It’ll be on limited edition pink vinyl with ‘Johnny Appleseed’ on the A-side and ‘At the Border, Guy’ as the B-side.

Another Joe Strummer for Record Store Day

Dark Horse Records has just announced there’ll be a further single taken from the Joe Strummer ‘best of’ compilation, Assembly, from earlier this year.

The label will be releasing, as part of Record Store Day Black Friday, a limited edition pink vinyl 12″ single with ‘Johnny Appleseed’ as the A-side and ‘At the Border, Guy’ as the B-side.

The 12″ will be limited to 4,500 copies worldwide and is out on 26 November. The single celebrates the 20th anniversary of Strummer’s album Global A Go-Go.

Both included tracks are remastered by Paul Hicks (The Beatles/John Lennon/The Rolling Stones/David Bowie) and will be cut at 45rpm on 12” vinyl for maximum audio quality.

The first single from Assembly was the picture disc 12″ of ‘Junco Partner’, released for Record Store Day Drop 1 on June 12.

Billy Idol to Join the Dark Horse Records Stable

Billy Idol is set to issue a new four-song EP called The Roadside — and it will be on none other than the newly resurrected Dark Horse Records label.

Produced by Butch Walker (Green Day, Weezer) and featuring Idol’s longtime lead guitarist and co-writer Steve Stevens, the EP will be Idol’s first new release in nearly seven years.

Dhani Harrison, who runs the label with David Zonshine, said in a statement “I couldn’t be more excited to welcome Billy Idol to the Dark Horse Records family. Billy is a legend, and his music couldn’t fit the Dark Horse persona any better. I’ve loved his music throughout my whole life, so to be able to give this new music a home on our historic label is a massive honour.”

It’s interesting to read that Idol fits the ‘Dark Horse persona’. When the label was re-launched with a distribution deal with BMG in January last year, Dhani said “Future releases in 2020 will include compilations, live albums, and box sets featuring rare and unreleased recordings from the Dark Horse label, many of which will be available digitally for the first time. From the Indian classical Ragas Of Ravi Shankar to the rock and roll of Attitudes I look forward to reintroducing, to a new audience, all of those artists that my father loved so much. We will also be expanding the Dark Horse family with new artists and classic catalogues in the coming years to include a rich and varied roster of incredible musicians whom we love. Please watch this space!”

So, under those criteria, Billy Idol is a perfect candidate.

For those who like physical formats, the EP is available for pre-order on exclusive blue vinyl from the Billy Idol website – though it is showing as Sold Out already. Hopefully more copies will be pressed. Orders will ship on September 17:

It’s also avaiable on black vinyl:

And on CD:

The lead single from the EP, ‘Bitter Taste’, has been previewed on YouTube. It’s a pretty good track:

Billy Idol joins Joe Strummer and Ravi Shankar as the most recent physical releases on Dark Horse.

Joe Strummer ‘Junco Partner’ 12″ Picture Disc for RSD Drop 1

It’s June 12, and that means the first of two Record Store Day Drops for 2021.

We weren’t aware (until we saw it just now) that there was anything of much interest for the “must have it all” completists among us – but there is!

The first is from Dark Horse, the label owned and operated by the George Harrison estate. The Dark Horse Records revival continues with a Limited Edition 12″ picture disc single of Joe Strummer’s ‘Junco Partner (Acoustic)’/’Junco Partner (Live)’:

It is available as part of Record Store Day – Drop 1 on June 12. There are just 3,500 copies available worldwide apparently.

The A-side features the home recording of the song ‘Junco Partner’, taken from Strummer’s latest LP called Assembly which is a compilation released earlier this year on the Dark Horse label. The B-side features a non-LP track, a live recording of the same song from Strummer and and his band The Mescaleros at London’s Brixton Academy in 2001.

The second release is a little more obscure. This is the first release on newly set up War Child Records and it is only available as part of UK Record Store Day Drop 1, and only 1000 copies have been pressed.

Back in 1995 as part of a fundraising effort, the HELP EP and ‘Come Together’ single were released by Go! Discs. These were associated with the iconic HELP album, which helped change the lives of children affected by the Yugoslavian civil war. Now they’ve been put on vinyl together as a very special 12-inch for the first time.

The EPs have been remastered by John Davis at Metropolis Studios. Side A features Radiohead, PJ Harvey, Guru and Portishead. Side B features the Smokin’ Mojo Filters (with Paul McCartney, Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller), The Beautiful South, Dodgy and Black Grape. Cover art is by 3D (Massive Attack), which featured on the CD inner sleeve of the original 1995 HELP album, updated exclusively by the artist for this release. The back cover is the orignal John Squire piece which featured on the Help EP original cover in 1995, reshot for this release.

The cover for the RSD Help EPS

Joe Strummer – Assembly – Dark Horse

Dark Horse Records last month released Assembly, a double LP or single CD compilation of the work of Joe Strummer, post his Clash days.

This one kind of passed us by somehow, but for lovers of the Dark Horse label (now newly revived) this is a very worthwhile purchase – and we say that not only for those label completists out there but because it contains some truly great music. It was released on March 26:

Dhani Harrison last year announced that Dark Horse (the label established by his father, George Harrison) was back, and there ensued a raft of digital-only re-issues of previously available material.

There seems now to be more physical product slowly emerging. For example, as part of Record Store Day last year there was a double LP of Ravi Shankar’s beautiful Chants of India. Produced by George Harrison this was the first time that title had been issued on vinyl – and on red vinyl at that.

Now comes the Joe Stummer compilation Assembly. And it too is on lovely red vinyl:

It’s also available on black vinyl:

And it can be had on CD too:

Why is Dark Horse issuing a “Best Of” style release for Joe Strummer? What’s the connection? Your guess is as good as ours. We can only surmise that Dhani Harrison must be a major fan of the late singer’s work. Interestingly the recent Ravi Shankar Chants of India had the catalogue number DH0001. The Joe Strummer LP has the catalogue number DH0002. Bring on DH0003, 0004, 0005……

The LP is beautifully presented in a gatefold sleeve with lyric inserts and liner notes by Jakob Dylan (who last year was involved in the Dark Horse digital-only release of the Tom Petty estate charity single ‘For Real – For Tom’ also featuring Dhani Harrison, Amos Lee, Lukas Nelson, Micah Nelson, and Willie Nelson). It sounds fantastic too because it’s remastered by one Paul Hicks at Abbey Road Studios and obviously well-known here for his work on Beatle, George Harrison and John Lennon re-issues.

It is fantastic to see that Dark Horse Records label back on physical product. If you’re not familiar with Strummer’s solo work (or his work post The Clash with The Mescaleros) check this out if you can. He’s pretty amazing and Assembly makes for great listening.

Record Store Day 2020 – Beatle Related Titles

It’s been a bit quiet on the new Beatle product front for a while. Then comes the 2020 Record Store Day official lists – and not one, but three titles that will be of ineterst to collectors.

First up, Paul McCartney and yet a further re-issue of his first solo album from 1970, simply called McCartney:

This time around, for it’s 50th anniversary, McCartney is getting the Half Speed Master treatment. There will be just 7000 copies produced. If you’d like to know more about Half Speed Mastering UMe has produced this article. Abbey Road Studios engineer Miles Showell (who worked on this 2020 re-issue of McCartney) explains more here:

And, as one wag said on one of the better re-issue forums (Super Deluxe Edition – which we love): “Just as he did fifty years ago, Paul’s making sure his solo album gets released before Let It Be hits the streets…” That’s actually very funny. History repeats.

Also on this year’s Record Store Day list, a Ravi Shankar Centennary Edition of his Chants of India album, produced by George Harrison in 1997. In what is the first physical product to come out of the new distribution relationship between BMG and Harrison’s Dark Horse Records, this LP is being issued for the first time on vinyl – and it will be on red coloured vinyl to boot! 3000 copies are being pressed, and the 2LP set will come in a gatefold cover with an exclusive photo print:

Finally, a John Lennon title is included in the 2020 RSD list. A 7″ black vinyl single of his 1970 hit ‘Instant Karma!’ is being billed as the 2020 Ultimate Mixes. The single will feature newly mixed audio and a faithful reproduction of original UK sleeve artwork. 7000 copies are being pressed:

Record Store Day this year is on Saturday, April 18. Check here for the full list of what is planned for release. You can find the US RSD store here. The official RSD UK store is here.

BMG Signs Deal with George Harrison’s Dark Horse Records

Billboard and Music Week are reporting that music distributor and publisher BMG has formed a new multi-faceted worldwide distribution partnership with Dark Horse Records, the George Harrison-founded record label now led by his son, Dhani Harrison.

The deal not only includes releases from the back-catalogue of Dark Horse, but also Harrison’s Indian label imprint, HariSongs. It’ll also include the solo work of Joe Strummer, and his work with The Mescaleros.

Dark Horse will also release entirely new recordings through BMG, like the recent Tom Petty estate charity single ‘For Real – For Tom’ that featured Jakob Dylan, Dhani Harrison, Amos Lee, Lukas Nelson, Micah Nelson, and Willie Nelson.

Initial releases are digital only. The first slate of titles under the deal will include the George Harrison-produced Chants of India by Ravi Shankar; the live album Ravi Shankar & Ali Akbar Khan In Concert 1972; Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros’ albums Rock Art and The X-Ray StyleGlobal A Go-Go, and Streetcore; and Attitudes Ain’t Love Enough: The Best of Attitudes.

However, the good news for collectors of physical product is that future releases in 2020 will include compilations, live albums, and box sets featuring rare and unreleased recordings from the Dark Horse label. That means we might see new releases (plus bonus material) on CD and LP from the likes of Splinter, Stairsteps, Keni Burke, Jiva, the late Henry McCullough, and maybe even some Ravi Shankar…..

Strange/Unusual Find of the Month – George Harrison’s ‘Poor Little Girl’ Promo

Paid a visit this week to a new and second-hand record/book store we’d not visited before. It’s called Title, and they specialise in music, books and film.

One item in their “1/2 Price” sale bins caught our eye: 

It is a 12″ promotional-only single from Brazil containing two versions of a rare George Harrison solo song from 1989 called ‘Poor Little Girl’. Oddly enough the flip side of the disc is Rod Stewart singing a Tom Waits-penned song, ‘Downtown Train’:

Harrison’s ‘Poor Little Girl’ was only ever released on a 1989 compilation called The Best of Dark Horse 1976-1989, and it looks like this promo disc was issued to promote that album. The 12″ promo contains two versions of the song – an edited version that runs 3:25, and the LP version with a running time of 4:32.

As you can see, there was not great attention to detail by whoever prepared both the cover and label as they misspell George’s surname both times in the songwriting credits.

Strange to have come across this 12″ tucked away in the inner Sydney suburb of Surry Hills – but that’s sometimes the way record collecting goes…..

As usual, click on the images above to see larger versions.

Ravi Shankar – ‘In Celebration’ 4CD Set

In 1995 George Harrison was producer of an impressive 4 CD compilation box set honouring the musical life and genius of his friend and mentor, the Indian master musician Ravi Shankar. It was called In Celebration and it formed a key part of the celebrations that year marking Shankar’s 75th birthday.

The four CDs trace four distinct aspects of Shankar’s output: Classical Sitar; Orchestral and Ensembles; East-West Collaboration; and Vocal and Experimental.

The set was released on the Angel label (an EMI subsidiary specialising in classical music), and George’s own Dark Horse Records label.

Because it was expensive the following year (1996) there was also an In Celebration – Highlights single-disc version for those wanting a taste from each of the four CDs:Ravi Highlights1Ravi Highlights2Ravi Highlights3

We’ve had a copy of the single disc Highlights for years and have often enjoyed escaping into the world of Indian music. As a result we’ve been on the lookout for a long time for a reasonably priced second-hand copy of the full box set – now long out of print. At last we’ve got our hands on a copy (via eBay and from a seller based in France of all places).

The larger set is a much more detailed and elaborate affair, with silver embossed printing details and individual artwork for each CD. When we say “box set” this is actually presented as a tall, deluxe hard-back book, with the four CDs stored in holders inside the front and rear covers.Ravi 1Ravi 2

In between them is a beautiful 60 page book with a foreword by George Harrison and a lengthy essay, richly illustrated with photographs, on the life and work of Ravi Shankar by Timothy White, a former Editor In Chief of Billboard magazine: Ravi 4Ravi 3

There’s a handy glossary of terms included at the back – a big help in understanding and appreciating Indian classical music, its instruments and main themes and influences.

This is all really nicely done as a package and a great selection of, and tribute to, Shankar’s life and work.Ravi 5Ravi 6Ravi 7Ravi 8_0003