Pazz and Jop 1971 – #9

Various – The Concert for Bangladesh

Another one that isn’t on Spotify, but someone has been courteous enough to put the entire thing on YouTube. This record is a lot more interesting as a cultural artifact than as a collection of music. I’m not generally a fan of live albums – I have this issue of wanting familiar songs to sound, you know, familiar (contradicted by my love of covers as reinvention, like M. Ward’s “Let’s Dance”, Scott Bradlee taking on Radiohead, or Richard Thompson and Fountains of Wayne giving Britney Spears a go) – but this outing is an exception. It is, of course, an epic accomplishment, the “We Are the World” or “Live Aid” of its day, without the, respectively, treacle or pomposity. The almost 17-minute long Ravi Shankar-led jam “Bangla Dhun” is bracing, and smartly opened the show before the audience was sated by the star power that would follow. Then you mostly get great artists singing already popular tunes. The other highlight for me was Leon Russell and Don Preston’s medley cover “Jumpin’ Jack Flash/Youngblood”, which has the energy and sense of the unexpected that only a live performance can deliver, but Bob Dylan messing with his own “Just Like A Woman” also makes an impression. Sometimes, a cultural artifact can still surprise you.

The playlist below is an excellent effort that gets as close as one can manage on Spotify to recreating this album.

(Originally posted on Facebook, March 28, 2021)