The idea of getting local musicians to record a favourite cover song for a charity compilation was an inspired one back in 2003. Thus far, three Even Better Than The Real Thing albums have raised €550,000 for charities including the National Children's Hospital, Barretstown and the Unicef Tsunami Relief fund.
With the first three volumes raising such a sizeable figure for good causes, it's surprising that the series wasn't continued after 2005. Perhaps the local talent pool had dried up, or maybe there was a sense that the series had been taken as far as it could.
Now, the idea has been revived by the original instigator of the compilation, Today FM's Ray D'Arcy, with most of the songs covered hailing from the 1970s disco era. Even Better Than The Disco Thing! features 16 tracks, with standouts including Cathy Davey's take on Donna Summer's I Feel Love, Lisa Hannigan's playful version of Diana Ross's Upside Down and an inspired Director cover of Anita Ward's Ring My Bell.
Elsewhere, Juno Falls tackles Last Night A DJ Saved My Life (Indeep), Jape takes Hot Stuff (Donna Summer) to a new place and Martin Staunton & The Sharon Shannon Band have fun with Superstition (Stevie Wonder).
This double disc features a mix CD, where Mark McCabe reworks the cover versions. All proceeds go to the National Children's Hospital and Barretstown.
n It has been quite a year for Oasis, whose unexpected return to mid-1990s levels of commercial success came on the back of a patchy album, Dig Out Your Soul.
And Noel Gallagher has been everywhere lately -- adorning the covers of Mojo and the Guardian's Weekend magazine, to name just two organs -- which may already be leading to Oasis fatigue.
For those who wonder why the media scrambles to interview Gallagher -- a friend recently moaned when seeing yet another Noel cover on the newsstands -- the simple fact is he is a journalist's dream. He is a figure whose every utterance is quote-worthy and he actually seems to enjoy the promotional process.
It's only when one has sat in a room with people like Kelly Jones and Brandon Flowers, and wondered if it was possible for their conversation to get much blander or cliché-ridden, that it becomes apparent just how captivating people like Gallagher, Bono and, yes, Chris Martin are to talk to. It's good to see that one of the year's big newcomers, Duffy, is cut from the same cloth as Gallagher. She has plenty to say and she's not afraid to say it -- something she displayed to this hack in a recent interview. In fact, it was difficult to get a word in edgeways such was her mad, rambling, but always entertaining, discourse.
Music -- and art generally -- need people like that. And it's good to see that Duffy -- whose Rockferry album is the biggest seller in Britain this year -- is keeping up a noble tradition.
n D12 -- the rap troupe best-known for their Eminem association -- have cancelled their Dublin gig, which was due to take place in Tripod tonight. Apparently, it's a Europe-wide cancellation, but the people associated with the venue would be forgiven for thinking they've been cursed this year.
Tripod has been hit by a host of cancellations in 2008 -- MIA, The Human League and My Morning Jacket were just three of the high- profile acts supposed to play there but never did.
- CD prices have long been a bone of contention, and not just in a recession. But there are some good bargains to be had, not least Tower Records' offer of a Van Morrison pack featuring early albums Astral Weeks, Moondance and His Band and The Street Choir for €9.99.
What's not as good value -- in fact it's veritable daylight robbery -- is the price of live DVDs churned out by Irish comedians. Jason Byrne's latest, The Byrne Identity, is a case in point: it retails for €20 and for that you get a 75-minute performance from Vicar Street with 'extras' comprising his dressing room preparations before the gig.
At least Byrne is sporadically funny, which is more than can be said for the awful Andrew Maxwell, whose 'comedy' variety show Smoke & Mirrors is curing insomnia on RTE 2 on Monday nights.
And while we're on the subject of RTE, could someone please send The Panel down the swanny? The unfunny Maxwell was ranting and raving on it last week, with some cailin deas from TG4 apparently there just to guffaw incessantly at Andrew's jokes.