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‘Concert for Bangladesh’ coming to DVD

George Harrison’s charity shindig set new low for fiscal mismanagement
/ Source: Reuters

George Harrison’s 1971 charity shindig “The Concert for Bangladesh,” a rock extravaganza that paved the way for all-star benefits and set a new low for fiscal mismanagement, is coming to DVD for the first time Oct. 25.

The soundtrack CD also will be reissued on the same day with an extra track from Bob Dylan, who emerged from seclusion to play the historic Madison Square Garden concerts.

The rights are owned by the Beatles’ Apple Corps. label, an odd twist given that Apple partners John Lennon and Paul McCartney refused to play at the shows.

The packages will bear the new subtitle “George Harrison & Friends” for the sake of consumers who don’t know anything about the concerts, an Apple spokeswoman said.

The original triple-disc record, also featuring such performers as a heroin-addled Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Leon Russell and Ravi Shankar, won the Grammy for album of the year in 1973. A feature film also was released about that time.

Harrison arranged the two Aug. 1 shows after Shankar, his musical mentor on the sitar, had alerted him to the plight of millions of starving and flood-afflicted Bengalis who were then engaged in a short but bloody fight for independence from Pakistan.

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All concert proceeds were earmarked for UNICEF, but rock-star idealism was trumped by the harsh reality of complex litigation stemming from the bitter Beatles breakup months earlier, tax demands, and even New York magazine claim that money from album sales was being skimmed.

The United Nations agency had to wait months before receiving its first meager check. An Apple statement said the project has since generated millions of dollars for UNICEF and raised awareness of the organization. Artist royalties from the DVD and CD will continue to go to UNICEF, as will Apple’s share of proceeds, the spokeswoman said.

Harrison’s widow, Olivia, is serving as executive producer, completing work started by her husband before he died of cancer in 2001.

The CD will be released by EMI/Capitol, which handles all Beatles products, and the DVD by Warner Music Group, the distributor of the Harrison tribute “Concert for George,” which won the long-form video Grammy this year.

The DVD will boast the original 99-minute film and 72 minutes of extras, including a 45-minute documentary and previously unseen footage: Harrison and Dylan rehearsing “If Not For You,” Harrison, Clapton and Russell performing “Come On In My Kitchen” during sound check, and Dylan performing “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” during the afternoon show. That track also will be added to the remixed two-CD album.