Tuesday, April 21, 2009

George Harrison - Bangla Desh

(Apple 1971)

George Harrison, sitting all a-bearded atop the commercial heap, was feeling his oats around this time, so he decided to flex his celebrity muscle for a good cause and rush out a benefit single in aid of the refugees from Bangla Desh. This was apparently quite a politically-minded period for ex-Beatles: within the next few months, John Lennon would release “Woman is the Nigger of the World,” Paul McCartney would release “Give Ireland Back to the Irish,” and Ringo Starr would release… well, he’d release “Back Off Boogaloo.” Which is a terrific song! Anyway. Phil Spector and an army of hotshots (Ringo Starr, Leon Russell, Billy Preston, Jim Keltner, others) once again apply the massive All Things Must Pass sound, which manifests itself here as a tasteful funkiness – much like a slower “Wah-Wah” – that rides some punchy dual-drumming while guitars, sax, and piano trade off brief solos. The live version from The Concert For Bangla Desh speeds things up considerably and makes for an interesting companion piece as it emphasizes “rock” over the intensity/urgency of the message-heavy studio recording. “Deep Blue” has the general feel of “For You Blue,” but with downer lyrics that are easily missed thanks to the song’s easy-going acoustic shuffle. As a non-album single, both tracks on “Bangla Desh” are semi-obscurities; the sadly neglected A-side has since only shown up on the Best of George Harrison compilation/travesty, while the B finally got released on CD as a bonus track on the recent reissue of Living in the Material World.

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