Review: Concert for Bangladesh DVD

On August 1, 1971 at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, George Harrison set the stage for the plethora of rock and roll benefit concerts that followed in its wake. Upon the request of his friend and fellow musician, Ravi Shankar, Harrison gathered a group of musicians to raise funds to aid the starving people of Bangladesh. This DVD presents the highlights of that concert.

bangla02047.jpg

(1972) Mexican lobby card for this filmed concert including artists such as Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Leon Russell and more. Dir. Saul Swimmer. (Mexico) Flat

The DVD opens with press conference footage of George Harrison announcing his participation in the Concert for Bangladesh. It moves swiftly to Harrison introducing Ravi Shankar and his accompanying musicians, Usted Aliakbar Khan, Alla Rakah and Kamala Chakravarty. Harrison asks the rock-and-roll oriented audience members for their patience during the Indian music session of the program.

George introduces Ravi Shankar and the Indian musicians. Shankar discusses the starvation problem in Bangladesh and also asks for the patience of the audience during the Indian music set. When the audience applauds after the musicians tune their instruments, Ravi quips. “If you appreciate the tuning so much, I hope you will enjoy the playing more.” His comment seems to endear the audience, who are clearly waiting to rock out with two former Beatles and other rock icons.

When George Harrison first introduced ‘his’ Indian music to us in the 1960s, I really tried to appreciate it. A friend and I even went to a Ravi Shankar performance when he appeared in our city. (Coincidentally, it was in the same movie theater where we had seen A Hard Day’s Night and Help!). It was a little too much for me those 30-plus years ago. But after learning more about eastern philosophy and embracing meditation as part of my life, I find myself thoroughly enjoying this portion of the DVD. I was even actually disappointed that it wasn’t longer!

After the Indian music set, we see a brief backstage glimpse of George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Leon Russell, Phil Spector and Allen Klein.

Onstage, we see the ever intense George Harrison, all in white with his long beard, looking so un-Beatlesque. Ringo Starr is on drums. Eric Clapton is on guitar. Leon Russell is on piano and Billy Preston is on keyboards. Klaus Voorman is on bass.

This DVD offers an hour and a half of the best music from this concert. It’s refreshing to see straight concert footage, shot documentary style, with none of the MTV-style editing and obscure camera shots. The sound and picture quality are clear, although it’s obvious that this is from more than 30 years ago. You really can kick back and just enjoy one of the best “supergroups” ever assembled on one stage.

 Track Listing

  • Bangla Dhun – Ravi Shankar
  • Wah Wah – George Harrison
  • My Sweet Lord – George Harrison
  • Awaiting On You All – George Harrison
  • That’s The Way God Planned It – Billy Preston
  • It Don’t Come Easy – Ringo Starr
  • Beware of Darkness – George Harrison
  • While My Guitar Gently Weeps – George Harrison
  • Jumpin’ Jack Flash – Leon Russell
  • Youngblood – Leon Russell
  • Here Comes The Sun – George Harrison
  • A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall – Bob Dylan
  • It Takes a Lot to Laugh/ It take a Train to Cry – Bob Dylan
  • Blowin’ In the Wind – Bob Dylan
  • Just Like a Woman – Bob Dylan
  • Something – George Harrison
  • Bangladesh – George Harrison

Musicians

  • George Harrison, guitar and vocals
  • Ringo Starr, drums and vocals
  • Jim Keltner, drums
  • Billy Preston, keyboards and vocals
  • Leon Russell, piano and vocals
  • Klaus Voorman, Carl Radle, bass
  • Jesse Ed Davis, guitar
  • Eric Clapton, guitar
  • Bob Dylan, guitar and vocals
  • Badfinger – Pete Ham, Tom Evans, Joey Molland, Mike Gibbons, acoustic guitars, percussion
  • Hollywood Horn Players, led by Jim Horn; Chuck Findley, Ollie Mitchell
  • Ravi Shankar, sitar; accompanied by Usted Aliakbar Khan, Alla Rakah, Kamala Chakravarty
  • Chorus: Allan Beutler, Marlin Greene, Jeanie Greene, Jo Green, Delores Hall, Jackie Kelso, Claudia Lennear, Lou McCreary, Don Nix, Don Preston

Credits

  • Directed by Saul Swimmer
  • Produced by George Harrison and Allen Klein
  • Music Recording Produced by Phil Spector and George Harrison
  • Edited by Howard Lester
  • Editing Staff: Roger Rodewald, Harvey Bekowsky, Sharon Goldberg
  • Negative Supervision: Charles Diana
  • Production Manager: Steve Bono
  • Photographed by: Sol Negrin, Richard Books, Fred Hoffman, Tohru Nakamura
  • 70mm prints by Film Effects of Hollywood
  • Film sound mixed by Bob Fin
  • Title Design by Perri & Smith
  • Original soundtrack recording available on Apple Records
  • Released by Apple and 20th Century Fox Film Corporation
    1972

Lyric subtitle choices: English and Portuguese

The DVD is in color, although I had to adjust the usual color level settings on my television set to bring up the color – otherwise, it appeared in a sepia tone.

The DVD is a little pricey considering there are no “extras” as we DVD aficionados have come to expect, but hey, it’s George Harrison and Ringo Starr and I’m a Beatles DVD completist!

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