Beatle Hari’s Nod To Ravi (Godfather Records GR643/644)
Tarrant County Convention Center, Fort Worth, TX – November 22nd, 1974
Disc 1 (74:43): Hari’s On Tour (Express), While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Something, Will It Go Round In Circles, Sue Me Sue You Blues, Zoon Zoon Zoon, Na Na Dahni, Cheparte, Anurag, I Am Missing You / Band Introduction, Dispute And Violence, For You Blue, Band Introduction
Disc 2 (67:33): Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth), Soundstage Of Mine, In My Life, Tom Cat, Maya Love, Dark Horse, Nothing From Nothing, Outta Space, What Is Life, My Sweet Lord, While My Guitar Gently Weeps (12th November 1974, 1st show), Anurag (12th November 1974)
The Godfather has once again dipped his toes in the Beatles world with a very good recording of George Harrison’s show at the Tarrant Country Convention Center, Fort Worth, TX. This recording has been released previously as ‘Fort Worth Express’ ( hindustani music : raga 001-A : B ) & in edited form as Hari’s On Tour ( SIAE : GM 897401 ) Discover ( Gold Chapter One : CO 25108 ). This release replicates the Hindustani release by including the Indian sections of the show too as well as adding in a couple of tracks from L.A. on the 12th of November. The main problem for some collectors will be the fact that when the show was first copied to CD there was a certain amount of tape hiss.
Even though the show has been very well recorded & transferred the surface noise is still there unless you dampen the treble a little. Despite this, the full show being included is immensely helpful for the overall feeling of being there & as many other releases are less reliant on the support acts to shift their product the Don made the right choice in keeping them in. George was obviously in a testy mood today as he changes the lyrics around in “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” in to “Tries to smile” while the floor “Looks quite tidy .. ” immediately dashing the hopes of the audience members who were desperate to sing the famous Beatles song word for word.
Harrison throws in a tantalizing bite for the Fab watchers within “Something” mentioning his new lover within the framework of the lyrics. This was obviously aimed from the stage at Olivia & would be brilliant fodder for the fans who had been watching over every movement in George’s love life since his split from Patti. Introduced as “Some one who I would never have come on the road without because I love him so much & need him” Billy Preston brings on to the stage his own brand of organ bruising, thunder funk. Pouring out sunshine around the audience Billy’s task it would seem is to bring a bit of life back to proceedings & that’s just what he manages to do. Getting the audience on his side rather than snippily dishing out his own will on his most famous songs rather bringing in the crowd to join in with the party.
The show clouds over a little again with George’s jibing “Sue Me, Sue You Blues” – It’s not that the musicianship is dull in any sense of the word, far from it in fact, but George’s lyrical spite is rather less appealing than Billy’s jolly bravado. Next up George introduces the Ravi’s band to the stage introducing Ravi as “Really affected my life to such a degree that I now have a life worth living”.
The six tracks that follow, each time interspersed with an appearance by George either thanking the audience for their support or to ask for their help with a charitable donation, are a great mix of western & eastern ideas. Most of the audience would be quite knowledgeable about this style of music having either followed the Beatles, the Byrds, the Stones or whichever band had decided to follow the path of mystic enlightenment & added a touch of Indian music to their own compositions or they may have immersed themselves in the purist styles of Ravi’s own albums on the Apple label or have cottoned on way before but some would be completely ambivalent to it all.
To this end, during his appearances, George tries to make light of the titles of the songs or appears flippant in other ways as not to appear too preachy about the music the performers were about to play. Most of the tracks are around the standard 3 – 5 minutes in length as not to test the patience of the uninitiated too much, which would be another trick that would work in the favor of the band. During “Cheparte” & the epic “Anurag” a few of the audience members near the taper get a little restless & converse between themselves but this is mostly muted by the music from the stage. The first disk ends with the Las Vegas styled upgrade of “For You Blue” ( One in which George will thank everyone who bought a programme .. ) of the many instrumental passages while George lets some of the musicians on stage have a lengthy tryout between verses & choruses while claiming an introduction.
Disk two begins with a mild version of “Give Me Love ( Give Me Peace On Earth )” that begins almost exclusively acoustically before changing in to a big band track before losing most of it’s pomp to become a basic track. “Soundstage Of Mind” is announced as “Just a boogie, woogie tune” which they hadn’t quite got round to fully completing yet. It was obviously thought of being good enough to be presented but must have suited George being an instrumental as he could rest his voice for a few minutes. After Tom Scott’s few minutes of fame on stage performing “Tom Cat” George returns with another two, at the time unreleased songs from his ‘Dark Horse’ album – “Maya Love” & “Dark Horse”. With his announcement for the tracks you can hear that George is struggling with his voice as he coughs & hacks to clear his throat. That ‘Maya Love’ features barely a few words is a blessing both for us & him it would seem at this point. “Dark Horse” requires no vocal acrobatics though & so George comes through this with a certain amount of grace.
Following another break for Billy Preston to do his thing, George returns for his ‘encores’ – A galloping “What Is Life” preformed in duet with Billy Preston – a version that gets the crowd clapping along joyfully with George’s biggest solo hit “My Sweet Lord” rounding up the night. Midway through George exalts the crowd by asking them to pick the deity of their choosing & asking them to shout their name so loudly it blows the roof off of the venue. The euphoric message continues for a good seven minutes before the musicians speed up to a magnificent pace to end the song.
For the bonus tracks The Don has chosen two soundboard tracks from the Forum in Los Angeles on the 12th of November – the show that was released in part on Wolfgang’s vault a couple of years ago – “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” sounds magnificent – a glorious & searing guitar solo slices through the middle & makes one wish that if we had more of these shows in sound board, despite George’s rasping voice, we may consider these shows in a different light. Another version of “Anurag” completes the disk.
The packaging is the usual Godfather trifold sleeve – the cover a clever amalgamation of the lotus illustration from the booklet that accompanied the tour. The rest of the sleeve featuring various pictures of George & Ravi on stage, a long write up by Audacious Ensconce & a list of the musicians ( both the British & American & Indian ) & the instruments they played. This release is a worthwhile reissue of the long deleted “Fort Worth Express” disk which is one of the better releases from this tour. The welcome addition of a couple of the sound board tracks is a nice furnishing of the set.
Stu wrote a great review. I do agree the title is a bit daft, but the recording is great and the performance is wonderful. This is the definitive silver edition of Fort Worth.
I’d recommend ‘Seattle Express’ from that same tour, on the misterclaudel label (mccd-227/228). As same tour releases go, it’s very close to the Ft. Worth performance as far as songs covered, but overall has a slightly different vibe and is at least equally enjoyable. However, I think Ravi’s set on Seattle is certainly better. Having both, I personally prefer the Seattle release, but think either is a personal preference. Though, mistelclaudel wins hands down for packaging, with fat box case, glossy & real cool inserts and obi strip, and includes a 22-page miniature tour booklet too!
I have a few Harrison titles in my collection including a couple from 74 and I prefer the main performance for this one. I believe this was taped by the same taper who taped The Doors in Dallas 1970. I believe some of his other sources circulate and are also decent quality. Back to this release, this is the first time I’ve really listened to Ravi and I found his performance interesting and glad that Godfather decided to include it with this release. Once my ears were able to adjust to Harrison’s vocals, then I was able to really enjoy his performances. I enjoyed Preston too. If you only want 1 title from Harrison’s 74 tour, this may be the one and if anyone recommends any others, please post here if you would? Personally I don’t allow the titles of some of these releases to bother me and I mostly focus on the music instead. No offense erikbt.
What a vulgar title ! Not that George Harrison wasn’t inspired by Ravi Shankar – but there’s something about saying something the right way. “Beatle Hari’s nod to Ravi”……spit. I would love to have this on silver, but I’ll stay clear simply because of the childish title. That’s the first time I’ve let a title made me avoid a bootleg.