George Harrison & Friends

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Reissues

George Harrison & Friends

The Concert for Bangladesh DVD (Apple Corps/Rhino)

George Harrison & Friends

The Concert for Bangladesh CD (Apple Corps/Capitol)

Obviously, some of the fruit under the Apple tree (Ringo, Imagine, Band on the Run) is sweeter than the rest (Back to the Egg, Gone Troppo). Spun off the previous year's triumphant All Things Must Pass, 1971's all-star Concert for Bangladesh was a test of faith for both Ravi Shankar and George Harrison. The sitar guru appealed to the former Beatle's magnanimity in order to help Indian refugees fleeing Eastern Pakistan, and Harrison gamely took up the standard, remembering John Lennon's advice to play their old band's card whenever a cause warranted. The results, on both a double DVD set and separate 2-CD mini box, are prime time. Harrison, 28, and still looking like a baby Beatle in "Helter Skelter" disguise, is one of two main attractions at Madison Square Garden, leading Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Leon Russell, and others through an abbreviated set from All Things Must Pass and Beatles standards. Like 2003's Concert for George DVD, a second disc is superfluous, save for three bonus performances. Moreover, as with the Concert for George CDs, the catalog shell game ensnares Bangladesh; the DVD runs the song you want on audio, Harrison and Bob Dylan's eyes-locked duet on the latter's "If Not for You," while the audio includes a track not in the film, "Mr. Tambourine Man," whose radically altered lyrics fans will covet. The rest is more or less the same 100 minutes: Shankar's too-short yet still disruptive start; a tight, ATMP trifecta peaking with exhilarating Revolver wannabe "Awaiting on You All"; (yawn) Billy Preston; Ringo's kicking "It Don't Come Easy"; Harrison and Badfinger's Pete Ham acoustic on "Here Comes the Sun" and perfect, fleeting closer "Something." In between, finally, inevitably, there's Dylan's reedy, somehow pleading 20 minutes. My sweet lord, they sure could pick 'em back then.

(Both)

***.5

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