August 17, 2010


Another exciting Beatles-related release coming this fall- the complete collaborations between George Harrison and sitar-master, Ravi Shankar! If your tastes in the groovy sitar sound of the 60s lean toward Rubber Soul and Sergeant Pepper, the Shankar soundtracks to Satyajit Ray and Alice in Wonderland, or the wild covers by Lord Sitar (see below), this set is an essential (and lovely) celebration of the friendship and music of these seminal artists that pioneered pop/world music fusions. From George Harrison's website:

Los Angeles – Dark Horse Records announced today the October 19th release of a limited edition deluxe box set, entitled RAVI SHANKAR GEORGE HARRISON COLLABORATIONS. The release honors the sitar master’s 90th birthday.

Collaborations is a 3 CD and 1 DVD uniquely numbered limited edition box set. All compositions were composed by Ravi Shankar and produced by George Harrison over a period of 20 years.

The DVD is a rare concert performance of the Ravi Shankar’s Music Festival From India recorded at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1974. The albums include the acclaimed Chants Of India (1997), The Ravi Shankar Music Festival From India (studio version 1976) and Shankar Family & Friends (1974). The 56-page book includes a foreword by Philip Glass, a history of George and Ravi “in their own words” and rare photographs from both family archives.

The personal and musical friendship between Ravi Shankar and George Harrison has been known and well documented for decades now. It was a friendship that was powerful enough to make an impact on the large, musical life of the late nineteen sixties and it reverberates, as clearly, even today. – from the Foreword by Philip Glass

In 1973 George Harrison signed Ravi Shankar to his Dark Horse Records label. The first joint recording project between George Harrison and Ravi Shankar, Shankar Family & Friends brought together renown Indian classical musicians such as Ustad Alla Rakha, Lakshmi Shankar, and Shivkumar Sharma alongside Western jazz and rock musicians including George, Ringo Starr, Tom Scott, Klaus Voormann, Jim Keltner and Billy Preston. One half of the album comprises instrumentals and songs, while the second half is a thematic ballet to a yet un-staged performance.

Ravi Shankar’s Music Festival From India (live from the Royal Albert Hall) was the first artistic event organized and sponsored by George Harrison’s Material World Charitable Foundation; bringing together a 17-piece Indian classical ensemble as well as a solo sitar performance by Ravi Shankar accompanied on tabla by Alla Rakha.

In 1997 George Harrison and Ravi Shankar again collaborated on an album. This time Ravi created music for ancient Sanskrit chants with the challenge of maintaining the authenticity of the ancient verses. Released in 1997, Chants Of India are timeless, Vedic verses chanted for the well being of man and mankind.

Collaborations, is available on Dark Horse Records and distributed worldwide by Rhino Entertainment.

Spy Vibe Bonus
And now for something completely different! Lord Sitar is known for some very groovy sitar covers of 60s pop tunes. Although he made a number of Beatles covers, this version of I Can See For Miles by Mod-faves, The Who, has always stood out for me. I may have to post more of his stuff. What 1960s pop or soundtrack music would you like to hear Sitar-ized?

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