Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Comic Relief (1988-2011) - My Best Musical Bits

Comic Relief has always captured my musical imagination.

Since the Comic Relief charity was launched on Christmas Day 1985, it has raised over £650m for good causes around the world.

Along the way, it has made us laugh...and laugh loudly...

The first Red Nose Day was held in February 1988 and the second was in 1989. Since then, they have fallen one every other year - usually in the 2nd or 3rd week of March. The next is this Friday, 18th March 2011.

So, I'm dedicating two blog posts to celebrate this truly British tradition of supporting charity through comedy. The first one here revolved around the comedy, this second revolves around the music.

So, here are some of my Comic Relief Red Nose Day 'Best Musical Bits'...

It all began in fact, not in 1988 on the first Red Nose Day but in April 1986. Comic Relief's first charity single was Cliff Richard and The Young Ones with Living Doll which topped the charts!

Next up was a Christmas re-make of Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree by Mel & Kim (Mel Smith and Kim Wilde). It peaked at Number 3 in the charts in December 1987.

The first actual Red Nose Day single release was the Feruary 1989 version of The Beatles' Help! featuring Bananarama with French & Saunders and Kathy Burke. Again, it peaked at No.3 in the charts.

March 1991 saw Red Nose Day's 'The Stonk' by Hale and Pace and the Stonkers which topped the charts! This is the first Comic Relief single that I can vividly recall at the time.

April 1992 saw a time-out from Red Nose Day, as the Smear Campaign & Mr Bean released a General Election themed special - '(I Wanne Be) Elected'. It peaked at No.9 in the charts!

Red Nose Day 1993 witnessed Right Said Fred and Friends, 'Stick It Out' reach No.4 in the charts.

Also from 1993, this 're-make' of Bohemian Rhapsody by the favourites of the day. Personally, the weathermen's inclusion and that of the cast of 'That's Life' & Emmerdale are strokes of genius!

Hugh Laurie also plays a blinder! 'Ma-ma, just killed a chap...'

1994 saw the Pet Shop Boys release 'Absolutely Fabulous' for Comic Relief - it peaked at No.6 in the charts.

1995 saw a change in emphasis as the official Comic Relief singles for Red Nose Day became more serious in tone. Nevertheless, it didn't make them any less of a hit than those that went before.

The first, from that year, was the powerful and moving Love Can Build a Bridge by Cher, Chrissie Hynde, Neneh Cherry and Eric Clapton. It would become the first of an incredible 9 consecutive Comic Relief singles chart toppers.

1997 saw the Spice Girls and the Sugar Lumps do their bit for Comic Relief with 'Mama / Who Do You Think You Are?'.

In 1999, it was Boyzone's turn and they made a popular cover of the favourite, 'When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going'.

In 2001, Ronan Keating's protégé Westlife took the mantle and upped the ante with their cover of 'Uptown Girl'.

In 2003, Gareth Gates and The Kumars gave us 'Spirit in the Sky'.

2005 saw an innovation. The official Comic Relief single was McFly's All About You...

However, an unofficial single was also launched in 2005 courtesy of Peter Kay. It revitalised the career of Tony Christie and topped the charts for 7 weeks!

'(Is This The Way To) Amarillo'...

So in 2007, Comic Relief officially launched 2 charity singles for Red Nose Day - a song by a mainstream artist, and a comedy song.

The mainstream effort was 'Walk This Way' by Girls Aloud Vs The Sugababes.

The comedy effort again came from Peter Kay and again topped the charts. This time in the guise of Brian Potter & Andy Pipkin with the Proclaimers, it's 'I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)'.

2009 followed on the same theme. The mainstream effort was by The Saturdays with 'Just Can't Get Enough'. Theirs was however, the first Comic Relief single to fail to make the top of the charts since The Pet Shop Boys in 1994, peaking as it did at No.2.

The comedy version for the year however, returned Comic Relief to the top of the charts the following week. Bryn and Vanessa (Rob Brydon & Ruth Jones) with help from Tom Jones covered the country hit, '(Barry) Islands in the Stream'.

So it's been a memorable, musical 23 years of Comic Relief - here's hoping for many, many more!

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