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The Concert for Bangladesh album review – archive, 1972 | George harrison

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WWe are not trying to be political. We are artists. But through our music, we would like you to feel the agony… In Bangladesh. Ravi Shankar speaking before starting to play at Madison Square Garden. The record from that concert will be released next Monday as a triple album (Apple STCX 3385), and all proceeds will go to aid for Bangladesh (like the concert gate of $ 243,418.50).

Since playing in Monterey, Ravi Shankar has become well known to both rock music audiences and rock musicians. George Harrison chose to be influenced by Indian music as soon as the Beatles played more than pop tunes: Revolver, released in 1966, shows the beginning of his autodidact. (Brian Jones was influenced at the same time: Aftermath, also released in 1966, has him play the sitar). Harrison was always more concerned with pursuing his ideas than attempting the impossible musically; thus, instead of imitating Ravi Shankar, the two men were for years the boss of others: George by putting his fame at the service of Ravi, Ravi by being, in the background, a much better guru for Harrison than the Maharishi.

Ravi Shankar, a Bengali, asked Harrison to help him raise funds for the victims of the war in East Pakistan last summer. The Madison Square Garden concert was the result, staged in a month. The first side of the triple album shows Ravi playing the sitar on Ali Akbar Khan’s sarod.

The second side is, in fact, a cover of Harrison’s most memorable and signature songs on All Things Must Pass (Apple STCII 639). Indeed, with a few exceptions to come, the lineup of the musicians of The Concert for Bangladesh is similar to that of George’s previous triple album. Eric Clapton joins him for Wah-Wah, My Sweet Lord and Awaiting On You All, with Leon Russell on piano. Harrison’s photographs at the concert show him with a long, pointy beard, like a wizard, singing with his eyes closed, almost tearing words away from himself. The choir behind, and the audience in front, rise towards him, the girls in the group responding half Gospel style, half like a mantra. The song remains rock; the organ and the piano punctuate the melody like pistons, the guitars oil it, bend and shape the rhythm.

My Sweet Lord was popularly recognized as the 1970 single. The song is an invocation, made not for protection, but in a state of bliss. Again, Harrison mixes East with West, with the chorus sometimes singing “hare krishna”, sometimes “hallelujah”. The song is simple enough that it is played even better here than on the previous studio track, with Clapton’s guitar responding to Harrison’s voice. The act of worship, magnified immensely by star performers at the height of their fame and talent, becomes almost a bliss. Every part of the song is clear, Harrison infects a little scream not in the studio version. “Touch my cheek.” Listening, the effect is just that of the first Beatles hits: thrills of pleasure, and tingling at your fingertips, almost evangelical.

Two hymns end the second side, Awaiting On You All and That’s The Way God Planned It. Both songs are confident celebrations, ending abruptly in their own silence.

Just as the album has a photo of a hungry child on its cover, the concert audience must have heard the lyrics of the new songs. After Billy Preston sings “Hope You Get This Message” Ringo Starr comes to sing his It Don’t Come Easy. Horns and drums beating, the audience applauds and calls, they sing “open your heart and come together”. Then again Harrison, recalling Dylan in Beware of Darkness: “Watch out now, beware, beware of greedy rulers.”

Leon Russell delivers the age-old feast of fun on side four, with a mix of Jumping Jack Flash and Coasters’ Young Blood, sneering and yapping as well as Jagger, the guitars sagging and running through the sound, the girl’s choir screaming. , Leon improvise the links of the song. The side ends with George singing his Here Comes The Sun from Abbey Road.

The Concert for Bangladesh album review – archive, 1972 |  George harrison

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George Harrison (center), flanked by Allen Klein (left) and Ravi Shankar, talks to reporters about their benefit performance for refugee children from East Pakistan at Madison Square Garden, 1971. Photograph: NY Daily News / Getty Images

Side Five: A roar of joy as Bob Dylan comes along to sing songs he all wrote six or more years ago, playing acoustic guitar and harmonica, singing like before. Clearly he connects Bangladesh to the preoccupations of his old songs, giving them a new twist, a different side. Four years ago, Dylan said of his early songs, which were considered hymns by children, “I no longer have the capacity to nurture that strength that needs all these songs. I know the force is there, but my vision has turned into something new. And at other times, he spoke of being made intolerably confused by the pressure put on him. Now, by remaking these songs by singing them at the Bangladesh concert, Dylan brings them back to light, reminding us of their value.

A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall – like most of Dylan’s elliptical and metaphorical songs – enters his new perspective. “Has been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a cemetery”: and the public sees the newspaper photos of the brown corpses. “I met a young woman / whose body was on fire.” “The face of the executioner / is always well hidden / where hunger is ugly / where souls are forgotten.” Here and now, familiar words are difficult to understand: they are too appropriate, they denote pains too great to be understood except by a poet. But here is the poet, in public. Dylan switches to Blowin ‘In The Wind, Mr Tambourine Man, to Just Like A Woman. He plays softly, within himself; perhaps to make it clear that the show is Harrison’s.

The concert ends, relaxed, with George singing Something and Bangladesh. What Woodstock was meant to be, the Madison Square Garden Bangladesh concert was. It’s recorded. The concert will be rock music’s greatest act of magnanimity ever.

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