The estate of George Harrison has launched a new record label, HariSongs, that will focus on Indian classical and world music. The label was launched in partnership with Craft Recordings and will cull releases from the Harrison family archives, including the former Beatle’s collaborations with some of the most famous Indian musicians.
The label’s first two projects will be reissues of two recently out-of-print records: Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan’s In Concert 1972 and Shankar’s collaboration with Harrison, Chants of India. Both albums are available to stream and download today, April 27th.
Chants of India originally arrived in 1997 via Angel Records. Harrison produced the album, which Shankar recorded in Madras, India and Henley-on-Thames in the United Kingdom. The project found Shankar drawing inspiration from sacred Sanskrit texts, including the Vedas and Upanishads. The audio for this reissue was sourced and remastered from the original digital master tapes.
HariSongs also shared a short documentary about the making of the album, which features archival interviews with Shankar and Harrison. In the clip, Shankar discusses the deeply personal and spiritual nature of the mantras that comprise the album, and what it took to adapt them into songs for the public. “I was in a terrific dilemma not knowing whether I’m doing the right thing,” Shankar said. “You’re not supposed to utter these mantras for everyone. They’re you’re personal thing… I worked very hard and that’s why it took me the longest ever to do [this] record, but in this I had to do a lot of self-evaluating.”
As for In Concert 1972, Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan recorded the album at New York City’s Philharmonic Hall on October 8th, 1972. The performance captured the pair at the height of their powers as they performed three ragas in the “jugalbandi” style, a duet of two solo musicians. Shankar played sitar and Khan played sarod, while Alla Rakha provided tabla accompaniment. The concert also served as a tribute to Khan’s father, Allauddin Khan, who’d died a month prior and served as a musical mentor to both his son and Shankar.
The Beatles’ Apple Records originally released In Concert 1972 in 1973. Harrison produced the record alongside Zakir Hussain and Phil McDonald. The new digital version of the record was sourced and remastered from the original analogue master tapes.