Live Aid review by Tom Blain

Like one long VH-1 flashback show.

On July 13th, 1985, every band that was big in the 70s and still rockin' joined up with every band from the 80s that, at the time, was worth a damn and put on a gigantic concert that spanned two hemispheres. Its dual epicenters lay in London's Wembley Stadium and Philadelphia's J.F.K. Stadium. The purpose was to raise money to feed the starving men, women and children in Africa. Quite an admirable cause. The whole thing was orchestrated by Bob Geldof, whose claim to fame was playing the character 'Pink' in Pink Floyd's The Wall. Bob had a good heart and knew how to get a big time gig going. The concert was broadcast to millions all over the world (mostly through BBC, MTV) and something like $80 million was raised. Not too shabby.

20 years later, the tapes were found in dusty corners and locked up vaults. Alas, your 10 hour portal to the 80s is open, music comes complimentary. The big question: Is it worth the money?

If you are into 80s nostalgia or classic rock in general, the quick answer is yes. Where else are you going to get such a mix of music in one DVD set? Elton John, Rolling Stones, The Who, Phil Collins, Billy Joel, Eric Clapton, Madonna, U2, Sting, and there is more. You could probably turn on a classic rock station right now and they would be playing a song by someone who played at Live Aid. The sticker price is also extremely gentle: $30.00 at most stores. Even if you don't like every band, $30.00 is a drop in the bucket for a 4-DVD set.

So what are the draw backs? Well, for one, sound. All things considered, they did a good job patching together a pretty old collection of nearly forgotten tapes. Geldof didn't want the concert to be taped or rebroadcast in any way so its a miracle that these tapes even exist. Every once in a while there is a bit of static; maybe some feedback here and there. But you have to understand when you buy the DVDs: its old and its live. With that being said, its still pretty good quality wise; it just doesn't meet up to today's technology.

Also don't buy this DVD set if there are just one or two bands you like. Chances are, they only play 3 songs if you are luck. Even with 10 hours of music, the time flies and with as many bands that played at Live Aid, only the really, really good ones got somewhere near 15 minutes of play time...if that! Also, a few of the performances are disappointing. Phil Collins screwing up on the piano playing "Against All Odds" ...solo! Yeah that one hurt big time. For a few numbers it seems like they should have coordinated more of a band behind the musician instead of letting him play solo. Other times, they get it right.

Personally, I liked this DVD, not just for the music but for everything else. I was 7 years old when this event occurred so I still have faint memories of some bands (Dire Straits; where are they now?) so getting the deja vu feeling when a new 1-hit-wonder walks on stage is half the fun. And no 80s DVD discussion is complete until you mention the style. And in 1985, it was jammin. Mullets are everywhere. Even Bono had a mullet. Oh and by the way...his mullet was super bad. This is one of those DVDs that you can grab your friends, sit around the house/dorm room, and play drinking games with. Say for example...
- Take one drink every time you see someone in Larry Bird shorts or triple striped white socks pulled up calf. Double shooter if you see both on the same dude.
- Take one drink every time you see hairdo that you A) Once had and B) Regret
- Take a drink every time you mistake one 80s icon for another (i.e. "OH MY GOD ITS ANDREW MCCARTHY!!! Ooops, its actually Simple Minds...")
- Take a drink every time someone is rockin out with a synthesizer, and lovin every minute of it.

Anyway you get the picture. Go ahead and have some fun with this DVD. As far as specifics... just a few general things I wanted to point out.


+Elvis Costello singing "All you Need is Love". Not a huge Costello fan, but I enjoyed this one.
-Nik Krenshaw. Who is he and why did he get stage time?
+Howard Jones on piano. Who is he and where did he learn to play like that? Impressive.
-Phil Collins "Against All Odds" screws up the intro. Then it goes downhill from there.
+U2 always puts on a good show
+ Sting and Dire Straits doing "Money For Nothing". There we go, now we're rockin'
+George Michaels and Elton John in a duet of "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me". This one is open to interpretation... read into it what you must.
-Phil Collins on a Concorde for one of the tracks. I know he played both venues which is incredible but don't waste the track on scenes outside the plane.
+Ozzy! {HORNS}!
+Beach Boys. Watch for the shirtless 'tough guy' in the crowd jammin away to "Wouldn't it be Nice" holding up a BEACH BOYS magazine. I always liked laughing at the guy who would show off anything at the concert with the band's name on it. If you are playing the drinking game, drink two shots when you see this dude.
+George Thorogood. Ugly man then and an ugly man now. But man can he play the roadhouse blues with force.
+The Who for Pinball Wizard which rocked. Not so much for My Generation though.
-Kenny Loggins. This guy was let out of the soundtrack recording studio in the 80s? I had no idea.
-Joan Baez singing "Amazing Grace". Not a big fan of "Amazing Grace" at a rock concert.
-Clapton for opening with a less than par "White Room" and following with one of his synthesizer 80s tunes ("She's Waiting" I believe its called).
+Clapton for putting the nail in the coffin by jamming Layla... the way it was first played. Chills...chills...The thing from above is forgiven EC.
-Band Aid performing "Feed the World" or the "Don't They Know It's Christmas?". I know their heart is in the right place, but the song is completely stupid. The lyrics are horrible, and these all-star band songs never sound that great. I'm just glad it raised a lot of money.
+Run DMC, B.B.King, INXS as extras on the 4th disc.
-David Bowie and Mick Jagger doing a "Dancing in the Street" video that is awful. Not only that, the song is awful. Also, see John, Elton and Michaels, George above.




6 out of 10 Jackasses
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