Hail A Dark Horse

On 13 September 1974 George Harrison’s record label, Dark Horse Records released its first two singles. The first - serial number DH10001 - was Ravi Shankar’s ‘I Am Missing You’. Produced and arranged by Harrison, it is a rare Shankar composition in a Western pop style with English lyrics; it has been described as a love song to the Hindu god Krishna. The other single to come out that day was Splinter’s ‘Costafine Town’, which went top 10 in Australia and South Africa and made the UK top twenty.

Splinter was a duo made up of Bill Elliott and Bobby Purvis who both hailed from South Shields in the north of England. Their album, The Place I Love, came out a week later with Harrison as producer, and featuring George playing electric and acoustic guitars, dobro, bass and harmonium under various pseudonyms. Other musicians on the record included ex-Spooky Tooth keyboard player, Gary Wright, Alvin Lee, Billy Preston, Jim Keltner, Klaus Voorman & Willie Weeks. At the time, it was even rumoured that this might secretly be George’s new band.

Ravi Shankar’s album was also released on 20 September 1974. Entitled Shankar Family ॐ Friends it features, along with Indian musicians, Ringo Starr, Jim Keltner, Billy Preston, Nicky Hopkins, David Bromberg and of course Harrison himself. Recorded in both Los Angeles and at Harrison’s home studio FPSHOT in the UK throughout 1973 & early 1974, this was an audacious blend of  traditional Indian music with folk, rock, jazz and even pop.

In 1976, with his contractual obligations to other labels at an end, and with the winding down of Apple Records, George Harrison signed to his own label. In the intervening years, there had been releases by Stairsteps, Jiva, Henry McCullough (following his departure from Wings), and a band called Attitudes. First brought together on Harrison’s 1975 album Extra Texture (Read All About It), Attitudes included drummer Jim Keltner, Danny (Kootch) Kortchmar on guitar, lead and background vocals, bass player Paul Stallworth and keyboard player David Foster. Between 1976 and 1977, they were to release 2 albums and 5 singles on Dark Horse.

Incidentally, Dark Horse Records was named after the title of a song George had written in 1973 to be found on the 1974 album of the same name. The inspiration for the logo came from a label on a tin that he had found during a trip to India, featuring the seven-headed horse Uchchaihshravas, a common figure in Indian art and mythology.

Along with the release of the new The Apple Years 1968-75 box set, there is also a limited re-pressing of the previously sold out 2004 box set The Dark Horse Years, which will allow fans who missed out before to get hold of it. Both box sets can be pre-ordered from Amazon here.

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