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Archive for the ‘Charity Rock’ Category

Reissue Theory: Live Aid on CD

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Twenty-six years ago today, on two different continents, the music world came together for a worthy cause: to raise awareness of famine in Ethiopia. Live Aid, a pair of concerts organized by Bob Geldof in London and Philadelphia on July 13, 1985 and broadcasted live on the BBC, ABC and MTV, was seen in person by some 172,000 people and on television by nearly 2 billion across the globe.

And, if you can believe it, none of it has ever been released on LP or CD.

Granted, it’s not entirely unsurprising. Geldof promised artists that the performances were very much a one-off, never to be seen past the initial broadcast. (That of course turned out to be untrue, with the release of a four-disc DVD set in 2004.) But you have to wonder, given not only the fiercely charitable nature of the organization as well as the capitalistic nature of the music industry, why a commemorative album was never put out to raise even more money for charities.

But if they did, this is how it might go down.

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Legacy Provides Relief for Japan

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Now here’s a surprise. iTunes, in concert with the major record labels, put together a 38-song compilation called Songs for Japan, the proceeds of which would go to relief funds for the ongoing crises in Japan following a massive earthquake and tsunami that left the country in a state of peril.

And now, Amazon has a listing for the compilation on CD from Legacy. (This two-disc set actually omits some of the tracks heard on the iTunes version, namely tracks by Madonna and David Guetta.) While it’s not a boon for collectors – collecting notable tracks by John Lennon, U2, Sting, Bob Dylan, Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen and almost every other famous rock artist one can think of – it’s certainly worth the $10 for a good cause, and we would be remiss if we didn’t pass on to our loyal readers that one can help by simply buying some music – something you and I likely do a lot!

Order Songs for Japan here and hit the jump for the track list.

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Live Aid at 25

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It was 25 years ago today that two massive, historic concerts were organized for African famine relief. Live Aid, performed in London’s Wembley Arena and Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium on July 13, 1985, was one of those rare overblown rock success stories – dozens of superstars and members of rock royalty coming together not at the behest of a politician or a natural disaster, but simply because it seemed the right thing to do. It raised millions for charity, it provided a massive plug for the Concorde jet (Phil Collins took one to play at both shows) and it helped make a little Irish band one of the biggest in the world.

In 2005, after lots of eager waiting from music fans, portions of the Live Aid broadcast were released on DVD for the 20th anniversary of the shows. It wasn’t easy to get the footage on DVD; Geldof originally wanted none of the shows to be preserved on tape, to enhance the once-in-a-lifetime feel of the event. (Even American network ABC-TV willingly erased the footage when they were done with it – and backups donated to the Smithsonian Institution remain missing.) Ultimately, the shows were sourced from footage recorded by the BBC and MTV, although some of the footage and audio were edited differently than originally intended.

Whatever the merits of the DVD set may be to you, treasured reader, your humble catalogue correspondent is sure you might agree that Live Aid was an important moment in rock history, and deserves some sort of preservation. To that end, it’s curious that Live Aid organizers Bob Geldof and Midge Ure never collaborated with the major music labels to release some sort of audio-document of Live Aid (a Herculean task, to be sure, but one Geldof would probably be able to do, given his tireless sense of activism).

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you were allowed the opportunity to select which portions of the shows would be released. Assuming you could only pick five songs (to go into a pool of possible tunes), which ones would you pick? The killer version of U2’s “Bad”? Something from Queen’s incendiary set? Duran Duran? The Hooters? Madonna? That almost-Led Zeppelin reunion? Run-D.M.C.? (I’d pick any of those – and I’d throw in a bonus track recorded after Live Aid but still fitting within the context: the never-on-CD, Sport Aid charity single/remix of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Run the World.”)

Feel free to share your memories and thoughts of Live Aid below.

Written by Mike Duquette

July 13, 2010 at 12:39

They Were the World

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In the near-25 years since Live Aid made music history on two continents, it’s safe to argue that charity rock music has never quite been the same. (Of course, others –Morrissey, for instance – have never liked charity rock from the outset.) But critics, audiences and especially performers have changed since those fateful concerts. Nowadays, the efforts seem a bit more forced, whether they’re high-profile (Live 8, Live Earth), or relatively obscure (Band Aid II, Band Aid 20, Hear ‘N Aid).

As a music fan and collector, I often find the spectacle of these charity outfits to outweigh the cause. (I vividly remember writing some kind of column about this for my college paper around the holidays, cracking at Live Earth, “So it’s hot outside; who cares? Half my iPod just came to life.”) So when I read the news of the planned “We Are the World” remake, my heart sank a bit. As worthy as relief efforts in Haiti may be, why dilute the impact and message of the original USA for Africa?

Furthermore – and here’s where that Second Disc charm comes pouring in – there was a whole We Are the World album that’s stayed out of print for years. It had some interesting stuff, too. Let’s break the track list down after the jump, shall we? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

January 22, 2010 at 11:47

Posted in Charity Rock, Reissues