Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Tonight thank God it's them instead of you

Musically, I wasn’t mad keen on the first Band Aid record. I’m pretty sure the family had a copy or two and I wouldn’t ever try to deny its impact just because the participants weren’t very cool. I just didn’t like it. I always preferred USA for Africa’s We Are The World, though it still teases my sensibilities to admit it.

We Are The World? Let’s face, you’re not, are you?

The new version’s OK, a marginal improvement bar the Dizee Rascal bit. Sadly it’s the want of fifty-something year old men to think the way to modernise and update music is to introduce ‘rap’, because after all it is a genre that is only, at least, twenty-five years old. That, or lay a 4/4 house beat over the top (See: The recent remix of Lou Reed’s Satellite of Love).

Along with the song, the history of the whole event has been re-written. Firstly, the original concept actually wasn’t that high profile. First I remember of it was an afterthought announcement at the end of a local news bulletin. There was no precedent to it, so nobody really knew who or how many stars would turn up to the recording. Geldof was a has-been punk and the Boomtown Rats were a distant memory. As a spectacle it had little more impact than a Radio 1 Roadshow. It was only afterwards, when Geldof had pulled it off, that the impact started to hit.

They’ve also largely ignored the fact that a remake has already been done by the Kylie and Jason era pop clan. There was nothing wrong with that version, but the participants weren’t that cool and the fashions not as retro as the original.

The thing that’s really bugging me, however, is Bono and That Line. No mention of the new version is complete without a mention that Bono has recreated “His famous line”. In 1984 U2 were very much at the edgy end of the pop spectrum. The omnipotent rock giants of 1984 were McCartney, Queen and Elton John, the Blues, Girls Alouds and Westlifes were Duran Duran, Wham and Bananarama. U2 were the Franz Ferdinand of their time, local pockets of fervent support, bags of potential, but nowhere near the real major league.

Bono’s Line had no more, or less significance than Simon Le Bon’s nasally whine or Paul Young’s tissue thin vocal croak. It was U2’s performance at Live Aid that started to join the pockets of support for the band and turn it them into a global phenomenon. Now they are these rock behemoths, the line has acquired a significance it never had before. Not that the whole thing needs any hype or angle, it was one of the most significant events of the decade, and perhaps the only time the whole world has been united against one cause. Oh how I loved when they cut to Live Aid Russia and the poor soviet techies had managed to plug the sound into one TV channel and the pictures into another meaning we listened for ten minutes to appalling soft rock whilst watching old women picking cherries on a farm.


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