Before We Are the World, before the Amnesty International concerts, before Live Aid, Live 8, 46664, and all the other charitable and/or political events that have used popular music as their principal draw, there was Georg... more »e Harrison's 1971 Concert for Bangladesh, a stirring affair released here in a fine two-disc set. The cause--raising money for the beleaguered people of Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan), who were ravaged by war, floods, and famine--was enough to attract the support of stars like the former Beatle, who had never fronted a band before, along with Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton, both of whom had been out of the limelight for some years due to various personal problems and choices. Given the little time that Harrison, whose help had been solicited by sitar master Ravi Shankar, had to organize the affair, the results are very impressive indeed: the enormous band, which also features Ringo Starr, Leon Russell, and Billy Preston, is tight, the music (spotlighting tunes from Harrison's All Things Must Pass, along with a few Beatle numbers) inspired, the musicians at the top of their games. (Only Clapton is sub-par; looking out of it and playing weakly, he's a far cry from the guy who, some 30 years later, would spearhead the magnificent Concert for George.) For some, the opportunity to see Dylan onstage with Harrison, Starr, and Russell (playing bass) will be the big attraction. Others will thrill to the remastered DVD sound and restored picture. Still others will revel in an entire disc of bonus material, including three previously-unreleased performances and a documentary featuring new interviews with many of the participants. 1971 was a bleak period in rock history; the Beatles had broken up, Hendrix, Joplin, and Morrison were dead, Woodstock was a distant memory. The Concert for Bangladesh shone like a beacon, a revelation of the better angels that reside within us all. And it still does. --Sam Graham« less
"Some year, 1971. The year of the bad rock-star beard. George Harrison had one. Leon Russell had one too, not to mention miles of split ends. Leon! What were you thinking?
It's all evident in the Concert for Bangladesh movie. But that's not what I'm here to discuss.
I first saw it when it was released in the theaters in 1972, that's how old I am. I still have the original vinyl album and the great booklet with all the pictures.
I remember one summer the movie played at the local drive-in and I went with a bunch of buddies, crowded into a lime-green Volkswagen Beetle. When Bob Dylan came on, everyone honked their horns and flashed their lights. It was a cool moment. Of course, one of my cynical friends had to complain. "Look at Dylan! He's a has-been! He's OLD!" What was he, like thirty? I guess that was old back then, wasn't it.
Looking at the film on DVD all these years later, I'm struck by just how much sprituality was in evidence at that show. Harrison was so earnest in his beliefs and it really rang true. It still makes sense to me today. He never sang about subscribing to a certain religion, but simply what you can find inside yourself. You know, The Inner Light and all that.
There was such a heartfelt camaraderie on the stage that night. Ringo Starr looked great behind the skins, alongside future Wilbury Jim Keltner. When those shimmering first chords of It Don't Come Easy come up, so do my goose-bumps. You have to put this in perspective; The Beatles had only broken up a year or so earlier, and these guys were still infallible gods at the time. Not only that, to see Bob Dylan in person was an event; he'd been in exile for several years at this point. When the spotlight hit Harrison for the first time, he was greeted with an extended standing ovation. It was as though the audience just wanted to thank him for all those years as a Beatle. Well, I guess that's what they were doing.
Honorable mention goes to Billy Preston, who delivered a stirring rendition of That's the Way God Planned It, a song that could thaw even the coldest of atheist hearts. The moment he loses control and dances all around the stage is a moment for the ages. Eric Clapton, unfortunately and shamefully, was pretty strung out at the time. It didn't even look like him, and there was certainly no fire in his playing; he just sort of stumbled about. Thank goodness he managed to yank himself out of that deadly haze before he wound up on the cover of Rolling Stone for the wrong reason.
At the Concert for Bangladesh, George Harrison pulled it off. He came out from behind the shadow of Lennon/McCartney, proving himself as an artist to be reckoned with. He also proved himself to be a great humanitarian.
1971 may have been the year of the bad rock-star beard, but it was a good one for the world."
Concert for Bangladesh (Preview)
Michael Behuniak | Seattle, WA United States | 09/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The George Harrison-led "Concert for Bangladesh" will make its DVD debut Oct. 25 via Rhino, the same day Capitol releases a remixed, remastered CD of the project. Rhino is also creating a deluxe edition set with a reproduction of Harrison's handwritten lyrics for the then-new song "Bangla Desh," a postcard set, a sticker and a print of the original show poster.
Staged on Aug. 1, 1971, at New York's Madison Square Garden, the show raised funds via UNICEF for Bangladeshi refugees caught in the middle of the country's battle for independence from Pakistan.
It featured Harrison performing alongside Bob Dylan (making a rare public appearance in the wake of a serious motorcycle accident), Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Ravi Shankar, Billy Preston, Badfinger and Leon Russell. The event was chronicled the following year on a triple-LP set and a feature film.
Rhino's DVD restores the original 99-minute movie in 5.1 sound and tacks on a wealth of extras, including a rehearsal performance of "If Not for You" with Harrison and Dylan and a soundcheck take on "Come on in My Kitchen" with Harrison, Clapton and Russell, plus Dylan performing "Love Minus Zero/No Limit," an outtake from the theatrical release.
The DVD will also include a 45-minute documentary, "The Concert for Bangladesh Revisited 2005," which features interviews with Bob Geldof and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Here is the track list for "The Concert for Bangladesh":
"Bangla Dhun" "Wah-Wah" "My Sweet Lord" "Awaiting on You All" "That's the Way God Planned It" "It Don't Come Easy" "Beware of Darkness" Band Introduction "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" "Jumpin' Jack Flash" "Youngblood" "Here Comes the Sun" "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" "It Takes a Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry" "Blowin' in the Wind" "Just Like a Woman" "Something" "Bangla Desh"
If not for You...
Junglies | Morrisville, NC United States | 10/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In writing this review I must complement the Harrison family and the executors of his estate for the marvellous job they have done in preserving and not diminishing George's memory. On the eve of the anniversary of his passing we have a quality product which in keeping with the man and his memory, enables us to help those unfortunate souls in the third world while enjoying this entertainment.
"My friend came to me, sadness in his eyes, told me that he needed help, before his country died". How could someone refuse such a request. This concert reissue comes only days after a major earthquake has brought untold devastation and misery to millions in Southern Asia to whom this concert was first dedicated almost 35 years ago. It is fitting that this coincident release will help some of those affected.
Much has already been said about the concert footage which is reproduced on the first disc of the set although much cleaned up and with better quality sound. It is easy to forget what a task Harrison had in assembling such a troupe of musicians at the time. The difficult separation and divorce of the Beatles added to his own inexperience being the leader and not just the member of a band, Clapton with his ongoing substance abuse problems which had driven him to being a recluse and the shyness of Bob Dylan in front of such a crowd, this in the days before arena rock became the norm rather than the exception. Despite all of this the musicians played well together although the wall of sound approach sounds a little over the top when one compares to the slimdown reunion performance of Cream recently. There is a touch of the democratic approach with most of the artists with the exception of Clapton contributing at least one song to the proceedings.
History cannot show how significant this concert was in the sense that younger viewers will not understand what the big deal was and nor will they be enlightened by this set. Save to say that without the huge efforts of George Harrison, before, during but very mainly after this concert, there would not have been any of the super benefit concerts that we see today. Perhaps one daring film-maker may try to tell the tale of all of the hoops Harrison had to go through to finally get all of the total monies raised to actually go to where it was needed and the years he spent in doing it.
The real gem of this set is the second disc which catalogues the making of the concert. Harrison is heard in voiceovers culled from interviews at regular stages. He emerges as the unassuming leader who calls upon a few palls but does not cut them any breaks if they fall down or give up on them. It includes some footage of some of the remaining participants as well as a brief comment from Kolfi Annan about the importance of this musical event bringing the world's attention to this serious problem in Bangladesh. There are three snippets too which will delight Harrison and Dylan fans the best of which is the duet between the two of "If Not for You" with the contrasting voices and approaches of the two men making for a superb historical and musical gem.
There are many worthy causes out there right now even some in our own backyard worthy of your money and attention. As we approach the season of goodwill this is one excellent way to enjoy great music from the man who brought some light to the world and to help others in the process.
This is one DVD I can heartily recommend."
The look and sound are stunning for a 1971 concert
Albert G. Smith Jr. | Daytona Beach, Fl USA | 10/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"John Sinnott has given a near perfect review, so I won't replicate point by point his findings. I am in full agreement. I just wanted to offer another positive data point to corroborate that this is a great package.
I was not expecting much based on the date of the concert and the recording technology of that era. I bought this simply to have it as a historical document of some of my favorite musicians from a time in the past that I remember from my youth. George Harrison is also someone that I admire and since he is gone, older footage is all we can have now. The bottom line is that I was going to buy this set even if it was in mono with a degraded image. The good news is that some technicians have earned their money on this restoration project. This could have been filmed and recorded this year based on the clarity of the image and the truly fine 5.1 sound. I know that this sound is rendered 5.1 well after the fact, since it was recorded in basic left / right channel stereo, but it is very convincing to me as the sound comes out of my rear speakers at just the right mix with the front speakers.
While the concert is great, I really love disc 2. There are many treats here that will make disc 1 more enjoyable. The navigation for the special features is great. You can for example click on "Eric Clapton" and some highlights of his playing (from the concert) will pop up, and then transition to a modern day Clapton offering reflections on that day, including references to his drug use and having picked the wrong guitar. The great bond between Harrison and Dylan comes through in the rehearsal footage, and Dylan looks so young and vital that you have to remember how long ago this was filmed. These were great performances from a great time that were saved on film for eternity... lucky us!
This would be a great DVD set if it were recorded last week with the most modern gear. That it was shot so long ago and still comes through with a clarity and sound that rivals current issued DVDs, is a testament to the engineers that poured their talent into making this a product they could be proud of. They have succeeded and we are all the winners. Don't wait, get this DVD set! "
What took so long?
Jeffrey P. Goethel | planet earth | 10/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"it's about time the concert for bagladesh came out on dvd. even better is the deluxe edition, which i bought. besides the outstanding quality of the concert dvd, the additional disc, with interviews and bonus tracks is just great. (although it's a pity, isn't it a shame that bob dylan didn't do an interview). then there's the packaging, which is beautiful. the dvds in its own case, and the great booklet. the poster is great for framining and hanging on your wall. postcards are cool, and the apple sticker is ok. this is how older material should be presented, as opposed to the latest lennon "collection". skip the regular dvd edition and get the deluxe."