Article Contributed by Big Hassle Media | Published on Friday, July 14, 2023

Today, Dark Horse Records is pleased to announce the reissue of the groundbreaking 1974 album Shankar Family & Friends by world renowned Indian musician Ravi Shankar. Shankar Family & Friends was a pioneering album that mixed Eastern and Western styles – fusing together Indian, pop, classical and jazz music. Produced by George Harrison, it combines Western musicians such as Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Jim Keltner, Klaus Voormann, and Nicky Hopkins side-by-side with Indian-music innovators Alla Rakha, Ashish Khan, Shivkumar Sharma, and Hariprasad Chaurasia. Under the musical direction of Shankar, the large orchestra featured on the album showcases over 30 instruments from the East and West that combined in a ground-breaking way that made it one of the first world music albums ever released.

To celebrate the reissue of Ravi Shankar's classic "Shankar Family & Friends" album, watch George Harrison with Ravi Shankar's Orchestra performing the track "Dispute and Violence" from the LP live in Toronto on December 6, 1974 at the Maple Leaf Gardens. Captured on film during George Harrison and Ravi Shankar's 1974 North American tour, which they undertook to promote George's own "Dark Horse" album and Ravi's first album on Harrison's newly launched Dark Horse Records label, it's the first time this HD footage has been officially available to stream. Featured musicians on this live performance include: Alla Rakha – tabla; Hariprasad Chaurasia – flute; Lakshmi Shankar - Conductor vocals; Viji Shankar – vocals; Harihar Rao - vocals & other instruments; Shivkumar Sharma – santoor; Billy Preston – keyboards; Jim Keltner – drums; Tom Scott – sax; and Willie Weeks – bass.


Shankar Family & Friends has been out of print for many years and contains the first single ever issued on Dark Horse Records, “I Am Missing You,” which features Lakshmi Shankar on vocals backed by a full Western rock band. The label is proud to present the original album remastered at Abbey Road Studios from the original source masters by Paul Hicks (George Harrison, The Beatles, John Lennon, The Rolling Stones) and reissued for the first time on CD as a standalone release alongside an orchid color vinyl edition.

Recorded at A&M Studios in Los Angeles in April 1973, Shankar Family & Friends marked the first time Harrison and Ravi had collaborated as musicians with Harrison playing acoustic and electric guitar under the name Hari Georgeson. One half of the album comprises instrumentals and songs, while the second half is a thematic ballet to a yet un-staged performance.

When asked about the making of the album at the time of the original release, Shankar said: “I’ve written music for many ballets in India. But never, never in the West, with so many Western instruments. This one I did without trying to make it totally Indian at all. I thought of making something very international. That’s why you hear all sorts of sound, starting from sitar or sarod to Moog synthesizer.

“The album contains almost every possible style that you can think of. For many years I was criticized by the purists, but there is much less criticism now, and even if people do it, it doesn’t bother me now. What I think of as new is just supplementing the tradition and adding new flavors - the source is always there.”

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George Harrison’s passion for introducing the world to new music expressed itself in 1974 when he created his own new label, Dark Horse Records, as a place for his solo work and a home for supporting other artists. The newly relaunched Dark Horse, continues that legacy as label home to such diverse artists as Yusuf/Cat Stevens, Joe Strummer, Leon Russell, Ravi Shankar, Billy Idol, Deep Purple’s Jon Lord, Benmont Tench, and of course, George himself. For more, please visit www.darkhorserecords.com.