With sadness in his eyes.
He told me that he wanted help
Before his country dies.
Although I couldn't feel the pain,
I knew I had to try.
Now I'm asking all of you
To help us save some lives."
The Concert for Bangladesh (originally titled The Concert for Bangla Desh) is a Live Album by George Harrison & Friends released by Apple Records on 20 December 1971 in the United States, and 10 January 1972 in the United Kingdom.
A bit of a background: In 1970-71, Bangladesh (at the time East Pakistan) was in a major humanitarian crisis; the 1970 Pakistan election which saw the pro-Bangladeshi faction easily win the majority of seats was annulled by West Pakistan's government, and Bangladesh was put under martial law which culminated in a brutal 1971 genocide. Not helping matters was the 1970 Bhola Cyclone that was one of the biggest natural disasters to date. It had come to George's attention after he was having a conversation with Indian musician Ravi Shankar in June 1971. George released the charity single "Bangla Desh" to call more public attention to the issues facing the Bangladeshi people.
On 1 August, 1971, George held two concerts in New York City's Madison Square Garden, not only featuring his backing band and Ravi Shankar, but also guest performers such as Billy Preston, Eric Clapton, fellow ex-Beatle Ringo Starr, Leon Russell and Bob Dylan (in his first major concert appearance in five years). The proceeds of those concerts were sent to help aid the Bangladeshi refugees situated in India.
Four days after Bangladesh finally became an independent country after winning their Liberation War against Pakistan with India's aid, the album was released to critical acclaim, as well as international commercial success. It won the 1973 Grammy for Album of the Year, and served as an inspiration for future multi-artist benefit performances such as Live Aid. Down the line, the album saw a 2005 remaster - with the revised cover seen at the bottom to your right - and a fortieth anniversary reissue in 2011.
- "George Harrison/Ravi Shankar Introduction" (5:19)
- "Bangla Dhun", performed by Ravi Shankar (16:40)
- "Wah-Wah" (3:30)
- "My Sweet Lord" (4:36)
- "Awaiting on You All" (3:00)
- "That's the Way God Planned It", performed by Billy Preston (4:20)
- "It Don't Come Easy", performed by Ringo Starr (3:01)
- "Beware the Darkness", performed with Leon Russell (3:36)
- "Band Introduction" (2:39)
- "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (4:53)
- "Medley: Jumpin' Jack Flash/Youngblood", performed by Leon Russell and Don Preston (9:27)
- "Here Comes the Sun" (2:59)
Side five (Bob Dylan set)
- "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" (5:44)
- "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" (3:07)
- "Blowin' in the Wind" (4:07)
- "Mr. Tambourine Man" (4:45)
- "Just Like a Woman" (4:49)
- "Something" (3:42)
- "Bangla Desh" (4:55)
2005 Remaster (on second disc alongside the tracks on the last three sides)
- "Love Minus Zero/No Limit", performed by Bob Dylan (4:19)
2011 40th anniversary re-issue, iTunes exclusive
- "Bangla Desh", studio version (4:00)
This live album contains examples of:
- Cover Version: Leon Russell and Don Preston's gospel medley of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" by The Rolling Stones and "Youngblood" by The Coasters.
- Epic Rocking: "Bangla Dhun" was nearly 17 minutes of classical Indian music, and eventually there's the nine-and-a-half minute gospel medley of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Youngblood".
- Genre Roulette: Considering the artists that played alongside George, there are multiple genres represented, including Indian music, rock, folk and gospel.
- Protest Song: "Bangla Desh". Even calling it that rather than "East Pakistan" was contrary to US Cold War foreign policy at the time, given their fears of Soviet influence in India.
- Special Guest: It was a big deal at the time to have two former Beatles sharing the same stage with Bob Dylan. And aside from the artists featured on the page description, the members of Badfinger were part of the backing band.
- Ur-Example: The concert, which George Harrison organised, was the first all-star charity concert.
- Observation on Originality: The hard part was getting the money where it was supposed to — not because of dishonesty, but because this sort of thing had never been done before. The IRS got in the way for a few years.