Saturday 20 July 2019

Band Aid return for Ebola victims

Sir Bob Geldof launched the latest version of the Band Aid single with the song's co-writer Midge Ure
Sir Bob Geldof launched the latest version of the Band Aid single with the song's co-writer Midge Ure

One Direction, Coldplay's Chris Martin and Ed Sheeran are to team up for a new incarnation of Band Aid, 30 years after Do They Know It's Christmas? was first released.

Songwriters Bob Geldof and Midge Ure confirmed today that they are springing into action once again to raise funds in the fight against the "filthy" and "inhuman" Ebola virus in West Africa.

And after initial fears that chart star Rita Ora may be unable to attend the recording on Saturday because of her commitments to TV series The Voice, the BBC said it was looking at ways of freeing her up to appear.

Other acts lined up to play on the track include U2's Bono - who appeared on the first version in 1984 - as well as Paloma Faith, Emeli Sande, Elbow and Bastille.

Boomtown Rats frontman Geldof said he had been inspired to re-record the song because of the "phenomenal bravery of the National Health doctors and nurses who volunteered to go out there".

It will be the fourth time the song has been recorded, with the most recent effort released a decade ago. After its original release - to help famine relief in Ethiopia, selling 3.7 million copies and raising £8 million - it went on to be the launchpad for Live Aid and inspired numerous musical fundraising efforts.

At a press conference in London, Geldof said it was not about nostalgia: "I don't like doing this stuff. It's boring organising it. It's embarrassing calling artists you don't know."

He said "giants of the past" as well as "our own contemporaries said that they will come along to the party".

He called on people to pay for the physical single - with a cover sleeve by Tracey Emin - instead of downloading it, or watching it on YouTube for free.

"I was speaking with Richard Curtis last night," Geldof said. "He said 1D did a track for Comic Relief that had 43 million hits in the US but zero sales. It's ridiculous. We don't want that."

The single will not be available for streaming on Spotify until January.

Sir Bob said that he had written to David Bowie to ask him to "reintroduce the video like he did 30 years ago".

He said that the lyrics had been re-tweaked because Africa was now "booming".

The new version will be recorded this Saturday and should be available for download on Monday morning.

"Africa is on the verge of radical change. It's a tragedy that modernity has released this beast into the world," Sir Bob said.

"It renders humans untouchable and that's sickening. Mothers can't cradle their young, lovers can't comfort each other."

He added that with this "silly little record ... I hope we will put this beast to bed once and for all."

Producer Paul Epworth - who has worked with Adele and One Direction - is already on board for the project.

Ure said he would like to get Adele involved and talks were still ongoing.

Geldof said Ora had to pull out due to her filming commitments with The Voice, but later the BBC said: "The BBC is more than happy for Rita to take part in the single and The Voice production team is liaising with her management to work around a major diary clash."

A fundraising concert is said to be "unlikely".

Unlike the original, where the artists were given a line each in the studio, this time they are expected to record the whole thing and producers will decide later which lines to use.

Geldof said he was aided in contacting younger bands by Radio 1 Breakfast DJ Nick Grimshaw, a friend of his daughter Pixie.

Further names are to be added to the roll-call.

Geldof said: "It really doesn't matter if you don't like this song. It really doesn't matter if you don't like the artists, it really doesn't matter if it turns out to be a lousy recording - what you have to do is buy this thing."

He added that the international financial response to the Ebola crisis had been poor: "It's scandalous what some countries do and some don't. The United Emirates, they've given five million dollars, they're a disgrace."

The physical copy of the track will cost £4 and the download version will be 99 pence.

PA Media

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