Tuesday, 4 August 2009

1987 Ferry Aid: Let It Be

You don't see any of those charity mannequins outside shops anymore do you? You know what I mean, those life-size plastic figures of a boy in callipers or a guide dog with a slot somewhere on it with the idea being that, as you pass by, you recognise a good cause when you see it and drop some money in the slot before walking on feeling pleased with yourself. And that feeling of being pleased for helping others was all that you got; these things didn't dispense tokens or certificates or badges that said 'I'm A Good Person'. They didn't dispense ropy singles either.

Yes, Ferry Aid was a charitable concern organised by The Sun newspaper. It's aim was not to raise money for former Roxy Music singers fallen on evil days but for the families of the victims of the Zeebrugge disaster where
a sea ferry capsized in March of that year killing 193 passengers and crew. And so under the patronage of Paul McCartney, a motley crew of the stars of the day with time on their hands (Boy George, Paul King, Bananarama, Mel and Kim et al) duly gathered to have a stab at The Beatle's 'Let It Be'. For charity.

'Let It Be' was always one of my favourite Beatles tracks. Even after all these years I always find something calming in the dignity of the psuedo religious overtones of McCartney's lyric and the piano led, lean spiritual arrangement that's augmented by Billy Preston's sweet organ sound.

But you can forget all that with this. Ferry Aid's version
is underlined in thick black crayon by a Stock Aitken and Waterman produced straight linn drum beat that fires a Magnum round straight into the face of the original's solemnity and drags us into karaoke hell. Which is exactly how the various stars tackle it, delivering their parts with mock sincerity that borders on the laughable in their earnestness, with Ruby Turner and Edwin Starr in particular vying for 'Best Over The Top Vocal Performance' Oscar.

If this isn't enough of a stake through the song's heart, then the coup de grace is delivered in the form of an inappropriately whammy whammy Gary Moore guitar solo that sounds like he was labouring under the impression he was still in Thin Lizzy. It finally careers off the road completely in a car crash camp fire caterwauling mass singalong that, ironically, does the exact opposite of letting anything be and drags it out well past the six minute mark.

The only person to emerge from this unscathed is Kate Bush who delivers her lines within the spirit of The Beatles' original, but it's slim pickings otherwise. McCartney's presence adds credibility to the project while at the same time removing it from himself
- why on earth he saw fit to give his seal of approval to this horrible mess of sickly hand wringing and over produced aural pornography is anyone's guess, and what 'Let It Be' has to do with ferries or mass deaths at sea I do not know. It raised money for a good cause so fair enough, but couldn't they have cut out the middle men and just got people to put a pound in a ferry shaped box rather than create this monstrosity as an incentive to part with it? Apparently not.

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