Tuesday, April 20, 2010

#164: Feed The World

Live Aid.  I mean, sure, we all admired the principles behind Live Aid, even if it was questioned both at the time and since as to the distribution of the funds (it would appear that some of the money was knowingly used to buy arms), but we enjoyed the music most of all. Quality acts, all of them. Hit after hit. Or were they?

Of course they weren’t. They were acts of the time, chosen more for popularity than any real musical ability. In those choices were quality acts, but the bulk never lasted the test of time. But, hey, unlike possibly you and definitely me, they can say that they were at Live Aid, on the stage, singing away for the assembled masses. We hadn’t seen a concert of it’s like before, although it has become so common now that they generally pass un-noticed when they happen. Such a shame.

Checking this stuff out it got me thinking as to who is actually left from Live Aid. Who survived and who faded away. Let’s look at Wembley first:

Status Quo – now pared down to two members, still touring whenever they want to and engaging in disgusting games, mainly called 'seagulling' from hotel balconies around the world.
Style Council – Paul Weller pulled the pin on this project in 1989 and finally, thankfully, went solo. Weller is still a force in music, and was highly regarded by bands such as Oasis. Released the brilliant Stanley Road album in the 1990s.
Boomtown Rats – Live Aid marked the final performance from Bob Geldof’s band. They split soon after, mainly due to Geldof concentrating on his humanitarian efforts. Some members occasionally tour as The Rats, but a reunion is highly unlikely.
Adam Ant – went nuts, culminating in his pulling an albeit fake gun on a patron in a bar. Still working and trying to find a record label.
Ultravox – Midge Ure’s project all the way. Finally split in 1987 and reformed in 2009 and touring.
Spandau Ballet –Split in the early 1990s and spent the following ten years engaging in legal action against each other for promised, unpaid, royalties. Managed to sort stuff out and are back and better than ever.
Elvis Costello – is still around, just being Elvis. When he’s not impressing people with his music he’s stunning us all by marrying Diana Krall.
Nik Kershaw – really was a minor player, sorry to say. One big hit, Wouldn’t It Be Good, and a few minor hits, such as The Riddle, was never a career going to make. Still gigs and records though, but you’ve not heard any of it. Truly the Robin Scott of the 1980s.
Sade – is still around and recently released another album. Is still as beautiful as ever and her voice is still able to make grown men cry from joy.
Sting – spent the bulk of the 1980s and beyond forging a successful solo career and being derided for his political leanings by the likes of John Lydon. Reformed The Police in 2007 and toured the world, has since gone back to be a solo act. Made some interesting music along the way – Fortress Around Your Heart is a definite lost classic of the 1980s.
Phil Collins – divorced his wife via fax. Finally left Genesis and went full solo, and rejoined Genesis in 2007. Took his most personal song, In The Air Tonight, and pimped it out for beer, chocolate and Mountain Dew commercials. Is running neck and neck with Eric Clapton for the ‘most pathetic use of a personal song for commercial gain’ award. Played at both venues, Wembley and Philadelphia, on the day.
Howard Jones – is still touring, sans hair. Released a brilliant live DVD upon which he dragged out Midge Ure and Nena to sing their 1980s hits as well, thus removing him from being a current act to being a high priced retro show.
Bryan Ferry – well Ferry wasn’t really 1980s was he? After converting a Smiths’ instrumental into a massive hit, went back to Roxy Music in 2001 and toured the world once more. Hasn’t done a lot since.
Paul Young & Alison Moyet – Paul Young was last seen burning pies on a Celebrity Kitchen show from the UK. His last album, Rock Swings, wasn’t released in 2006. Moyet, on the other hand, silently went into motherhood until coaxed out of semi-enforced retirement by Vince Clarke, with whom she reformed the might Yazoo and toured. Before that she spent a bit of time being a session singer, with clients such as Ocean Colour Scene, Tricky and The Lightning Seeds. Still puts out the occasional album.
U2 – faded away into obscurity. No, seriously, moved forward with the times and became one of the biggest bands of all time. Last album, No Line On The Horizon, is an absolute masterpiece. Bono has become the butt of a lot of jokes, mainly due to his insistence of asking people to give money to the poor at concerts, concerts where he’s just slugged tens of thousands around $150 each for a ticket. Also famous for tantrums and hiring a plane to fly a hat across the ocean.
Dire Straits – Mark Knopfler’s band and don’t you forget it. Toured the world for seemed like a decade non-stop before Knopfler finally pulled the pin in 1995. Has since scored many films and toured as a solo act and resisted the lure of lucre to reform Dire Straits. If he did reform the band then they could surely count on making more money than ABBA.
Queen – were close to calling it a day when Live Aid happened. The day was the shot in the arm they needed and most consider them to be the best thing that happened, along with U2 and Bowie. Went from strength to strength until the untimely death of vocalist Freddie Mercury in 1991. Have since reformed, albeit guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, and engaged the services of Paul Rogers, which would be like asking Dido to sing with Nine Inch Nails. Didn’t work, Rogers left after a few tours and an album that you never bought, and the due are now looking for a vocalist once more.
David Bowie – is still David Bowie. Possibly one of the biggest acts on the planet. Wasn’t a creation of the 1980s, along with Queen, but made them his own. Formed a band, called Tin Machine and released two albums which are criminally under-appreciated. Went back to being David Bowie and is still making quality music and is still on top of the world.
The Who – when they weren’t beating each other up they reformed and liked the money so much they stuck with it. The death of bassist John Entwhistle didn’t slow Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend down at all, neither did allegations of paedophilia against Townsend. Still touring.
Elton John – like David Bowie is still Elton John. Still throwing tantrums around the world and playing concerts that can range from 90 minutes to over three hours, depending on his mood. His co-performers have had mixed success. Kiki Dee is still touring and still releasing albums and DVD to her devoted fans. Wham! Meanwhile split soon after. Andrew Ridgeley released an album that should have seen him jailed for, and George Michael was on top of the world until he was arrested for soliciting lewd acts from an uncover policeman in the USA. Came out as gay soon after to the surprise of nobody and still tours. His popularity took a nosedive though, but can still pack ‘em in.
Paul McCartney – released a pile of non-descript albums until he, along with George Harrison and Ringo Starr, decided to reform the Beatles with a dead John Lennon on vocals and keyboards. Made millions from the Beatles Anthology series and then went back to being Paul McCartney. The death of George Harrison thankfully put the kibosh on anymore Beatles reunions, although it’s now hard to say that McCartney was the most boring Beatle – after all he did marry, and subsequently divorce, a one-legged ex porn star with mental health issues. Brilliant!

Next I’ll look at the American side of things.

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