Ravi Shankar & George Harrison - Collaborations

An intriguing series of East-West summits

Had John and Paul allowed
George a few more songs on the
albums, there might today be a
stronger case for Ravi Shankar’s
claim to the fiercely-debated
position of fifth Beatle. Clearly, all
three Fabs writers were weaned
on the likes of Carl Perkins,
Buddy Holly and Little Richard,
but it was Harrison who first
brought Eastern influences to the
Abbey Road studios, contributing
sitar to Norwegian Wood.

This box set brings together
three albums they recorded
together, 1974’s Shankar
Family & Friends arguably being
the most accessible. Classical
Indian musicians rub shoulders
with regular Harrison buddies
(Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Klaus
Voormann), the clash of cultures
resulting in a succession of
intoxicating melodies. Music
Festival From India, released in
1976, is a purer subcontinent
offering, recorded in London on
the eve of a European tour (the
additional DVD features a
performance of the album at the
Royal Albert Hall).

Chants Of India found the
pair reuniting in 1997,
challenging themselves to create
music for ancient Sanskrit texts,
though Harrison’s role is largely
restricted to producing the
sessions, in Madras and
London. It may have limited
appeal, even to ardent Beatle-heads,
but this box set is a
strong testament to two friends’
mutual respect and their desire
to push musical boundaries.

3 stars 3 stars 3 stars

Dark Horse/Rhino | 8122797921 (3-CD+DVD)

Reviewed by Terry Staunton
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