The Concert For Bangla Desh (Apple STCX 3385) (1971)

What is that shrieking noise? Ah yes, it’s my teenage self howling at its middle-aged counterpart’s embrace of the first side of The Concert for Bangla Desh and dismissal of the other five.

The fact is, despite the reputed vaunted musicianmanship on display, this is a middling, poorly edited and produced album, Shankar aside, full of half-assed buskings which says all too much about sixeventies rock royalty’s self-regard and its audience’s gullibility. Briefly but unkindly put, George Harrison is a weak, meandering and reedy live vocalist, and his backing band is either under-rehearsed, disabled by drugs or both. While it must have been thrilling to see an actual Beatle in concert singing Beatles songs for the first time in five years (this momentum certainly carried the show for the audience on the day), the album experience reveals all manner of flaws that wouldn’t be tolerated these days at the club down the road let alone Madison Square Garden.

Even with its ostensible and laudable aim, consciousness and funds raising for desperately needy people in East Pakistan, the concert was mired in several lurid and depressing backstories, notably CBS Records holding up release to get its slice of the pie, Eric Clapton’s junk abetted will-he-won’t-he-show controversy and the glaringly conspicuous absence of Harrison’s erstwhile band’s creative lynchpins.

On the positive side, the album is pressed up old style so that it can be played in order on a stackable record player, i.e. with side six on the flip side of side one, side two with side five and sides three and four together. And it comes with a lavish 64 page four-colour album sized book. And it only cost me £3. Oh and there’s comedy value when the audience tries and fails to clap along with Bob Dylan on side five.

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. i always wondered why double LP’s had sides 1 & 4 on one record and 2 & 3 on the other – another mystery solved, although if i had a stackable spindle on my deck i wouldn’t even use it for 45’s never mind LP’s as i remember they inevitably played in a warped manner as they sat on top of each other…

    as regards mr harrison, if ever was a classic case of being in the right place at the right time… oh, and in my opinion he should have been jettisoned along with ringo after “rubber soul”!

  2. sic ’em, ‘bo!!

  3. Don’t misunderstand, I’m all for George in the Beatles–good guitarist, backup singer, occasional lead singer and philosophically influential in their latter days. I’ve no doubt he (and the drummer, for that matter) were integral from first to last, part of the chemistry.

  4. Ekolad :
    sic ‘em, ‘bo!!

    i’m not sure what that means but i’m guessing it not very complimentary…?

    anyone who’s read my comments about the fab four on these pages will know i am somewhat out-of-step with the “we’re not worthy” attitude of most music fans (the emperor’s new clothes?)

    it’s not that i don’t like the beatles per se (and in fact like a lot of their early works), but i think the critical aclaim is way over the top

    yes, harrison was a good foil for lennon and mccartney in the early days, but by the time they stopped playing live and were using the studio for their inspiration he was pretty much surplus to requirements… and as for ringo, the apocryphal keith moon quote comes to mind – when asked if he thought ringo was the best drummer in the world, he allegedly replied: “he’s not even the best drummer in the beatles”!

    i think george and ringo’s limitations (and probably lack of interest by that stage) are a factor in why (i think) the later beatles recordings sound dull, stiff and lifeless and don’t “groove”, but because of the expectations of the times, the mere thought of them getting their marching orders would have sent shockwaves around the world back then… had the beatles come along 5 or 10 years later, not only would lennon and mccartney probably have ended up replacing them and/or using session musicians instead (a la steely dan), they would probably have split the band up and gone solo several years earlier (when they finally and inevitably did it was too late in my view)…

    but hey, that’s just my opinion – like arseholes, everybody’s got one!

  5. I believe the “best drummer” quote is usually attributed to Lennon. However, Moon did approach the Fabs seated in a club once and said, “May I join you.” “Sure, pull up a chair.” “No, I mean may I join (italics) you.” “We’ve already got a drummer,” came Richard’s icy reply.

  6. sic ’em = http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=sic%20'em
    ‘bo = Asbo

    lovin’ the anal apocrypha dudes…


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