Concert For George – Win a Free New Blu-ray

This week a new 2-disc Blu-ray version of “Concert for George” was released. It’s the first time we get to see this spectacular memorial concert in all its true high-definition glory. And you can win a free copy of the set – see below for details.

The “Concert for George” took place at London’s  Royal Albert Hall on November 29, 2002 – one year to the day after the sad passing of George Harrison. Olivia Harrison and longtime friend Eric Clapton organized a performance tribute in his honor.  It was a celebration of his music on a number of levels. The concert begins with a spectacular Indian orchestra performance of a composition called “Arpan”,  specially composed for the occasion by Ravi Shankar who was  a friend and mentor to George since he first discovered Indian music and began incorporating it into his Beatles music in the mid-1960s. “Arpan” means offering and within the piece Ravi Shankar expresses aspects of George’s moods and spiritual aspirations. The work includes Eric Clapton playing a haunting acoustic solo.

Disc One of the new Blu-ray “Concert for George” set contains the concert in its entirety.  A second disc features the original theatrical version of the film. There are also concert highlights, interviews with the performers, rehearsals and behind-the-scenes footage. The second disc also contains a previously unreleased interview segment entitled “Drummers,” featuring Ringo Starr, Jim Keltner and legendary percussionist Ray Cooper.

This very special evening featured many of George’s original compositions (both as a solo artist and as a Beatle) and the music he loved – all performed by a lineup including Eric Clapton, Jeff Lynne, Paul McCartney, the Monty Python team, Tom Petty, Billy Preston, Ravi Shankar and his daughter Anoushka, Ringo Starr, and George’s son Dhani Harrison.

The concert focusses very much on George’s writing and features songs like “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (with Eric Clapton on guitar, Paul McCartney on piano and Ringo Starr on drums), “Taxman” (performed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), “My Sweet Lord” (by Billy Preston), “Old Brown Shoe” (Gary Brooker), and “The Inner Light” (covered by Jeff Lynne and Anoushka Shankar).  Jeff Lynne  was George’s longtime friend and collaborator and he produced the recording of the concert, while Eric Clapton oversaw the entire proceedings as Musical Director. The concert film is directed  by David Leland.

Now – here’s your chance to win a copy of the new Blu-ray 2-disc release. All you have to do is be the first person to email me at with the correct answer to this “Concert for George” question:

In the “Concert for George” singer Sam Brown (daughter of Joe Brown, who is also in the concert) performs a version of a George Harrison/Dhani Harrison composition called “Horse to the Water”. What is the name of the album on which this song was first released?

Its a little bit tricky but the first correct entry sent to my email address above will win a Blu-ray copy of  the “Concert for George” set – released just this week.

The “Concert for George” Blu-ray is courtesy of Rhino Entertainment.

Here’s a promotional trailer for the film.

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:

Apple Records Special – Record Collector Magazine

As part of the extensive coverage of the new re-issues from the Apple Records catalogue, the famous “Record Collector” magazine in Britain (in it’s September issue – only just on news stands in Australia!) has The Beatles on the front cover and has devoted 16 pages of feature articles and photographs about Apple Records:

The articles included are “A is For Apple” – a salute “…to the Beatles’ final flourish of creativity”; an A-Z of the label and its artists; “The 2010 Re-Masters”, where Apple consultant Andy Davis talks about the 15 newly-remastered CDs released worldwide just this week; there’s a comprehensive Apple Records discography (complete with a price-guide for the rarities and not-so rarities); interviews with Mary Hopkin, Peter Asher, Patrick Olive (formerly of The Hot Chocolate Band), Jackie Lomax, and Joey Molland from Badfinger.

Pretty nice coverage really.

Ravi Shankar – “Raga” Reissue

Amidst all the anticipation around the huge Apple Records reissue program (scheduled for October 25), and the new George Harrison/Ravi Shankar “Collaborations” release (scheduled for October 19), there’s also further news about another previous Apple release called “Raga” (which is not part of the current official Apple Records reissue series).

Quite separately Ravi Shankar’s East Meets West company is re-issuing “Raga: A Film Journey Into the Soul of India”, a 1971 film about Shankar’s life and music, which features appearances by George Harrison.

The soundtrack is a former Apple vinyl title – but it won’t be part of the latest 16-title Apple CD reissues program.

The new artwork for "Raga", the soundtrack to the film of the same name - originally released by Apple Records

Both the DVD and a soundtrack (available as a digital download) are coming out on October 14, released on the East Meets West label:

Cover for the DVD release of the film

Further details about the DVD and the soundtrack (which will be available free via a digital download card with the purchase of the DVD, or which can be  downloaded separately at all digital retailers) can be found here. There’s also a high quality YouTube sample from the film as well:

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…..

Weird “Concert for Bangladesh” LP

Every so often you come across a CD or LP where you just can’t identify the country it was released in. Its kind of frustrating because collectors usually like to know this kind of detail…especially when you come across unusual or different packaging of a release you think you know well.

That’s the case here with this three-LP set from 1971 of George Harrison’s “Concert for Bangladesh”.

Every copy I’ve seen to date comes in a hard cardboard box, with a lid that lifts off and looks like this:

The usual "Concert for Bangladesh" box

The box contains the three vinyl discs, and the white-covered 64-page book of concert photos, text and credits for the album. The rear of this box is plain and has no writing on it.

However, I have a copy in the collection that’s a bit different. Its a box, but made of soft cardboard that doesn’t have a lid. The front cover looks familiar enough:

Front cover "Concert for Bangladesh"

So far so good. But this release has flaps on the back which you pull out to get access to the records and book inside:

The flaps in the closed position

You flip open these flaps and the “box” looks like this:

"Concert for Bangladesh" open

From what I can tell the US, UK and Australian versions all have the lidded box, and not this top-opening, slide-out style box. Also the US and UK versions have dark khaki brown inner sleeves in which the records sit (the Australian release doesn’t have any paper sleeves).

Inside this box  though the LPs are in light yellow colored thin paper sleeves:

The LPs are in yellow paper sleeves

The place you can usually tell the country of origin is in the small print on the labels of the records themselves. This one has no hints – with no mention of a country of origin. However, it does have a lot more copyright information on each disc, located just near the record number information (see top the left-hand side in the pics below as compared to the Australian release):

The label of the "strange" version - with copyright info top left

Compare this to the official Australian release:

The Australian release label - note no copyright info

The final main difference is that the words “Sole Distributors, Gramophone Record Company, Ltd” are written on the labels and prominently across the back of the box. The image below is from the rear of the box:

"Sole Distributors, Gramophone Record Company, Ltd" printed on the rear of the box

So, a weird one.

Being a huge worldwide Apple release, this concert disc set would have been issued in a large number of countries. I have my suspicions that this one here could be either the New Zealand or the Indian release.  But I don’t have anything to prove that.

If anyone has any information on this release please let me know by submitting a comment. Cheers for now.