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Saturday, February 05, 2005

 

DVD REVIEW: "CONCERT FOR GEORGE"

Guitarists, sitarists, satirists -- this 2 disc set has something for everyone who loved the writer/singer of "Something" and singer of "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" and creator/force behind so many classic songs, all of which are sung here by a wide assortment of George's best pals. Watching the DVDs, I felt, almost, like I was there. Any Beatles or Harrison fan will love "Concert For George".

And then there's MONTY PYTHON. Harrison loved and supported this group (even financially, by backing some of their film work), and was friends with Eric Idle and Michael Palin (remember when George cameod in the Rutles film? that was a partially Python project). The Python parts of the film were well done, and the DVD extra feature showing them backstage is one of the highlights of the entire box. Michael Palin's brief onstage speeches, with his mock over the top pomposity, was just what a Harrison event needed, and it fit perfectly. The lumberjack song, okay, we have all heard it a million times before, but it is an Evergreen, so why not. (Did you know Harrison used to sometimes use the alias Jack Lumber? This disc taught me that!) Even Tom Hanks was there, "filling in" for missing John Cleese, playing one of the background chorus, one of the redcoated, um -- what are they, mounties? -- the Dudley Do Right types that back up Palin's lead vocal. More on Hanks below. And lead Rutle Neil Innes is there too, playing bouncy piano, and joining Terry Jones, Eric Idle and Palin in a rousing version of Sit On My Face --- also somehow a good deflator and antidote for an overall reverential tone you feel watching the Concert. (Remember, of course, that most of the stars that play on the disc are 60s icons in their 60s (or close to it), so you can't really expect too much crazy bouncy youthful sounds and silliness --- but the Python Boys do their best!)

Seeing Dhani, George's son, on stage does help bring a little injection of youth to the proceedings, and Dhani's uncanny resemblance to his famous dad makes it all the more like George is there. Ravi Shankar and his daughter also play on the disc, the Concert could not be complete without Ravi, the great sitarist who taught George a thing or two to expand his musical consciousness.

The only odd thing about the film, perhaps, was how underutilized, or unneeded, Tom Hanks was. I love Tom, but he kinda stuck out to me, not really blending in with the whole event, although of course it was nice of him to be part of it. Was he REALLY replacing John Cleese or filling his shoes? Nah... but my nitpicking here is perhaps symptomatic of how much is good about this DVD set, that this is the only (minor) fault!

So go get it already!

And, oh yeah, my favorite bits: the two uke tunes (ukelele being one of George's many passions): "I'll See You In My Dreams" (performed with touching charm by Joe Brown, a song that has now catapulted into the Top Two of Don's Can't Stop Singing Songs), and "Something" (done by Harrison mate Sir Paul, in an odd time signature at first, but changing slowly to a slow rocker by the end, well done all round).

Buy it now.
Have I made my point yet?
Good!


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