Harrison Estate and Dark Horse Sign Further Publishing and Album Release Deals with BMG

You might recall that back in 2020 the mega music distributor and publisher BMG announced that it had formed a multi-faceted, worldwide distribution partnership with Dark Horse Records, the George Harrison-founded record label now led by his son, Dhani Harrison.

Well, there have been some developments.

Last week there was a rather intriguing press release from BMG announcing that they’ve now secured the publishing rights to the entire George Harrison song catalogue, including his Beatle, solo, and Traveling Wilbury compositions.

Plus the company has secured the rights to distribute some existing – and additional – interesting legacy artists on the the Dark Horse record label.

Here’s the official 2-page press release. We’ve highlighted those bits that grabbed our attention:

So, while there’ll be new publishing deals being done by BMG/Dark Horse for George Harrison’s compositions, it also looks like we can expect a range of interesting physical releases on the Dark Horse label.

These will include another EP from Billy Idol, and the new studio album from former Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench. There’s also likely to be a slew of back-catalogue re-issues from the great Leon Russell.

Interesting times indeed.

See also our articles on the six BMG/Dark Horse Records already released so far: Joe Strummer’s Assembly LP, Billy Idol’s The Roadside EP, the Billy Idol Happy Holidays Christmas album, Ravi Shankar’s Chants of India LP, and Joe Strummer’s two Record Store Day 12″ singles: ‘Junco Partner’ and ‘Johnny Appleseed’.

Record Store Day 2022 – Some Titles for Collectors

Record Store Day is returning to ‘normal’ this year. Well, as much as is possible in these strange times.

It will be on Saturday April 23, but the organisers are proactively trying to avoid disappointment by also designating an ‘RSD Drops’ date on June 18. That date will serve as a safety net for titles that for any number of reasons don’t make it into stores on April 23.

The US Record Store 2022 Day List includes titles that are coming to record stores on Record Store Day in April and those that will be coming in June. As they become aware of issues for any specific title, that title will move to the RSD Drops date – and you’ll see that on the List on the website.

Two titles of most interest to us here are a lovely translucent ice blue vinyl 12″ single from the Dark Horse Records label:

‘I Am Missing You’/’Lust’ by was the first ever single released on Dark Horse in 1974. It is taken from the George Harrison-produced album Shankar Family ૐ Friends, which itself is due for an audiophile vinyl re-press some time later this year. The 12″ single will be limited to 2700 copies.

There are also reports of a Paul McCartney release. This is mentioned on the UK Record Store Day site only so far and is apparently a 12″ single of the song ‘Women and Wives’ from his McCartney III album backed with the same song performed by St Vincent found on the McCartney III Imagined version of the album.

UPDATE (3 March, 2022): It seems this McCartney 12″ is to be crowned Record Store Day’s inaugural Song of the Year. For its 15th birthday, RSD is instituting a new tradition: the Song of the Year Single. ‘Women and Wives’ will get a one-time worldwide run of 3000 numbered copies on June 18:

The other title on the RSD 2022 list is a translucent orange and a translucent blue re-issue of Ringo Starr’s Ringo the 4th LP.

Ringo the 4th will come in a gatefold cover, and both colours will be limited to 1000 copies. (Thanks to The Daily Beatle for the images). This Ringo album has been re-issued previously in the US on red vinyl, and also on gold vinyl, in 2020.

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…..

New Album and Soundtrack: The Beatles And India

The Beatles And India documentary film (released last month) is an historical chronicle of the influence that India had on the Beatles – and how that in turn changed perceptions of that country in the West.

Through rare archival footage, recordings and photographs, eye-witness accounts and expert comments, along with location shoots across India, the film brings alive the journey’s of George, John, Ringo and Paul “from their high octane celebrity lives to a remote Himalayan ashram in search of spiritual bliss that inspired an unprecedented burst of creative songwriting. It is the first serious exploration of how India helped shape the development of the greatest ever rock band and their own pioneering role in bridging two vastly different cultures”.

The Guardian newspaper wrote of The Beatles And India: “The memory of the Beatles’ relationship with India is revived in this engaging documentary, and if there isn’t much really new here, it’s still salutary to be reminded of how these four young men…used their colossal influence, greater than any politician or movie star or religious leader, to direct the world’s attention to India.”

Now, following the release of the film, comes the original soundtrack to the film:

Not only that, there’s also a companion album called Songs Inspired By The Film The Beatles And India. This CD features interpretations by contemporary Indian artists of the songs the Beatles were inspired to write as a result of the time they spent there.

The album is evidence of the legacy of the enduring cultural and musical crossover which occurred and it features a diverse cast of Indian artists (Vishal Dadlani, Kiss Nuka, Benny Dayal, Dhruv Ghanekar, Karsh Kale, Anoushka Shankar, Nikhil D’Souza, Soulmate and many others) – each bringing their own musical styles, as well as contemporary and classical Indian influences and techniques to the record.

The companion CD release also includes a bonus disc of the original soundtrack score to the film. The music is composed by award-winning composer Benji Merrison and was recorded at Abbey Road Studio 2 (the legendary home of The Beatles recording sessions), and also in Budapest in Hungary and in Pune, India.

Here’s Nikhil D’Souza’s interpretation of John Lennon’s ‘India, India’, a song written by Lennon and recorded in 1980 as a home demo, but not released until 2010’s John Lennon Signature Box.

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…..

George Harrison Estate Launches New Record Label

The estate of George Harrison has just announced a new record label which will be dedicated to re-issuing some of the Indian classical and World music that George so dearly loved.

The label, called HariSongs, is kicking off by making two titles available to stream or download: In Concert 1972, featuring virtuoso’s Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan recorded live at New York’s Philharmonic Hall; and Chants of India, another Ravi Shankar project dating back to 1997. So far there is no talk of any physical product being made available, but there is a brand-spanking and comprehensive new website to go along with the new label.

In Concert 1972 was originally released on the Beatles’ Apple Records label in 1973, and was mixed and edited by George Harrison (with Zakir Hussain and Phil McDonald).

Chants of India, produced by George Harrison, was originally released in 1997 on the Angel Records label (formerly a classical music division of EMI). It was recorded in Madras, India, and at Harrison’s Friar Park home at Henley-on-Thames in the UK.

Both titles are recently out-of-print, and have never before been available via streaming platforms. In Concert 1972 is also available in Hi-Res 96/24 and 192/24 formats.

You can read the full details of George’s dedication to and delight in Indian classical music, plus the new record label and releases in the press release issued by the George Harrison Estate here.

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

George Harrison – Final Live Performance?

Surfing the Internet today we came across this YouTube clip.

It’s from the VH1 cable TV channel in the US – way back in 1997.

They claim it is George Harrison’s last ever live public performance before his untimely death on November 29, 2001. We don’t have a way to verify that – unless anyone out there can add to the discussion? But even if it’s not true it is an extraordinarily frank interview which includes an impromptu rendition of the then un-released song ‘Any Road‘ on a borrowed guitar. ‘Any Road’ was later released posthumously on George’s Brainwashed album in 2002:

VH1 put the interview together with some linking historical pieces and re-broadcasted it as part of their commemorations on the day of George’s death. He was on the promo trail in 1997 with Ravi Shankar for the CD Chants of India (which George produced) and had dropped into the studio unexpectedly. What unfolded was simply great seat-of-the-pants TV.

Ravi Shankar – Beatles Friend – Died Today Aged 92

The opening lines of George Harrison’s “Bangladesh” song from 1971 are: “My friend came to me with sadness in his eyes, he told me that he wanted help, before his country dies…..”.

That friend was Ravi Shankar – Indian sitar virtuoso and legendary musician who has died today – aged 92.

A statement on the musician’s website says he passed away in San Diego, near his Southern California home. His foundation issued a statement saying that he suffered upper respiratory and heart problems and had undergone heart-valve replacement surgery last week.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also confirmed his death and called Shankar a “national treasure”.

pandit_ravi_shankar

Labelled “the godfather of world music” by George Harrison, Shankar helped millions of classical, jazz and rock lovers (including me) discover the centuries-old traditions of Indian music. He became a teacher, mentor and father figure to Harrison and greatly influenced the Beatles music, from composition through to their fascination with India and it’s culture.

His discography is understandably extensive, spanning a recording career of well over 55 years. Ravi Shankar was briefly signed to the Beatles Apple Records label and released two albums. The first was a soundtrack album to a film about his music and life called Raga (1971), with the album of music from the film produced by George Harrison:

And then in 1973 came a double LP called In Concert 1972with sarod player extraordinaire Ali Akbar Khan:

Ravi-Shankar-In-Concert-1972--139925

George Harrison of course famously called upon his friend Shankar in 1971 to open the fundraising Concert for Bangladesh in 1971, and then released a live film and a triple LP called The Concert for Bangladesh with the whole of the first side of Disc One dedicated to a performance by Ravi Shankar. This was also released on Apple Records:

The_Concert_For_Bangla_Desh

Following the demise of Apple in the seventies, George Harrison continued his association with Shankar, releasing two LP’s on his Dark Horse label. The first was  Shankar Family and Friends (1974):

Family and Friends

Shankar Family and Friends was followed on Dark Horse Records in 1976 by Ravi Shankar’s Music Festival From India:

RaviShankar'sMusicFestivalFromIndia_album_cover

George Harrison also compiled and produced a 1996 box set called Ravi – In Celebration (for the EMI subsidiary label, Angel Records). A single CD of highlights was also released:

In Celebration

And in 1997 (also on the Angle label) came Chants of India, which was again produced by George Harrison:

Chants

It was no surprise then, when in 2002 a tribute concert was held in honour of the late Beatle, that the music of Ravi Shankar would feature prominently. He was present for the show and a Shankar composition “Arpan” (Sanskrit for ‘to give’), was specially written for the occasion:

ConcertGeorgeCover

All the Dark Horse Harrison/Shankar collaborations, plus Chants of India, came out in a lavish box set simply called Collaborations in November 2010:

collaborations_01

In recent years Ravi Shankar’s own record label EastMeetsWest Music has been steadily working through his back-catalogue and re-releasing his life’s work on CD, DVD, and digitally.