CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names December 1984, I walked into the HMV store on London’s Oxford Street to spend a little discretionary money on an LP. Other albums drew me, but one had an advantage. It combined the talents of all the major “Top of the Pops” singers onto one song. Given the standards of British pop at the time (leaving aside Scritti Politti’s “Jacques Derrida” and perhaps the Bronski Beat’s “Smalltown Boy”), the diminishing marginal returns at the cash register were held in check with only one purchase. It had to be Bob Geldof’s Do They Know It’s Christmas? The “charity single” had all of Britain’s finest, from Paul McCartney to Boy George, from Siobhan Fahey (of Bananarama) to Sting. The song opens with African drums and Phil Collins’ drum kit, and then the flow of British vocalists, with a young Bono in full flight. Geldof named their charity super-group Band Aid, a name that morphed as the fever caught, into Live Aid, Sport Aid and so on. BBC ran the Band Aid song non-stop. It raised millions of pounds to buy relief for the survivors of the Ethiopian famine.

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