Wednesday 29 April 2015

The War Child 'Help' album

It's 20 years since the War Child Help album – the brainchild of Andy Macdonald and Tony Crean of Go! Discs, the then record label for Paul Weller, Billy Bragg, the Housemartins and The Beautiful South. The idea was to raise funds for War Child's work in war-torn Bosnia by recording an album in studios across Europe on Monday 4 September 1995 and have it on sale in shops by Saturday, 9 September - less than a week from start to finish. On that Monday more than 20 artists performed in multiple studios across Europe. Oasis, Blur, Radiohead, Orbital, Massive Attack, the Stone Roses, Neneh Cherry, Sinéad O’Connor, Paul Weller, Paul McCartney and Portishead were some of the contributors. Weller recorded 'Come Together' at Abbey Road with Paul McCartney. Read about this experience here. Brian Eno produced the album and was responsible for making sure the recordings were ready for pressing in time for the Saturday release. Racing against the clock, he said of the experience, ‘Enjoyable panic, but I went into Hitler mode in the last few minutes.’ Help sold over 70,000 copies on the first day, becoming the fastest-selling album in British music history and raising more than £1.5 million. I was responsible for deciding what to do with the money, working from the principle that the Help money should not be solely for those parts of Bosnia Hercegovina where War Child was represented but for those in need across the whole country. So we funded school meals in central Bosnia, support for a mobile medical clinic in Bihać, the supply of premature baby units to Banja Luka, food and clothing to orphanages in Zenica, artificial limbs for wounded children, the purchase of a refrigerated truck to supply insulin, as well as baby milk, contraceptives and even funding for mine clearance programmes. Linda McCartney supplied twenty-two tonnes of her veggie burgers which we delivered to three Bosnian cities. Help monies were also used towards the running of the War Child bakery and to expand the charity’s music programmes to include towns in Republika Srpska such as Trebinje. Here is Radiohead's 'Lucky' being recorded with film from BiH. Watch this and then read more about Help at Left Field

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