The clip below was on the Holy Moly mailout this week. It is behind-the-scenes footage of The Stars recording the charity single We Are The World, all the way from 1985. These are proper, legendary, stadium-filling big guns and seeing them off-guard and making awkward jokes with each other, like strangers on the first day of a residential work conference, is weirdly moving – like those old clips of The Beatles I was droning on about a few months ago.
I don't remember too much about We Are The World. I was 11 years old and completely obsessed with Do They Know It's Christmas?, the UK precursor. That record featured all the bands that made me feverish with pre-teen longing, and it was better for shrieking along to at school discos in an effort to obliterate the sight of your so-called best friend slow-dancing to Phyllis Nelson's Move Closer with the boy you were seriously, this-is-the-real-thing-even-though-I-am-still-at-primary-school in love with. My charitable take on USA For Africa was probably something along the lines of 'GOD! They are TOTALLY copying Band Aid!' which suggests a consummate failure to grasp the purpose of the exercise. Band Aid simply blew my mind ('Duran Duran? And Wham!? And Spandau Ballet? In the same room? On the same record? *11-year-old head spins round and explodes*). I bought a special souvenir mini-magazine which, unsurprisingly, I still have 25 years later, and infuriatingly can't find right now.
This clip has many, many highlights, including:
1) Lionel Richie coming on like some flamboyantly smart-casual high-school drama teacher and teaching some of the biggest stars on the planet how to lean into the microphone.
2) Stevie Wonder getting the giggles just after Quincy Jones tells everyone off for being noisy during a take, while Paul Simon stands there silently, as anxious and tiny as Piglet.
3) Cyndi Lauper's clattering jewellery ruining the take.
4) As Holy Moly brilliantly noted, Lionel helpfully pointing out notes on the sheet music to Stevie Wonder.
5) The youthful, bed-headed, leather-jacketed Bruce Springsteen looking like some bad-boy-with-a-heart boyfriend from an episode of Blossom. His voice is such an explosive contrast to the silky vocal skills of everyone who's gone before that I find it impossible not to shout 'GO ON, BRUCE' right before his part comes in.
6) Michael Jackson at a point where, maybe, just maybe, he could still have found his way back.
Also, everyone involved can really sing.
You can see the full, finished video here, which is noteable for the presence of Bob Dylan. He's barely there on the behind-the-scenes footage, and I didn't remember him being on board at all, but that's probably because, at 11, I would have taken one look at him and said, 'Bore off, Grandad. You can't even sing. And your hair's stupid,' which, coming from a Duran Duran fan, would have been pretty rich.
Huey Lewis's fist of pure emotion, meanwhile, is also laudable. I have a lot of love for Huey Lewis. This is because my other twin obsession from 1985 was Back To The Future. Here is a picture of Huey's cameo in the film, taken from my Back To The Future souvenir magazine, which I found when I was looking for the missing Band Aid memorabilia.
Huey seems like the kind of man who would show you the inside of a wild bar, the outskirts of town, and every part of a good time (maybe this is a characteristic that comes as a package with the name Huey. The Fun Lovin' Criminals' Huey is exactly like this, but with added 'Seriously, I am ludicrously sexy' built in). Recently, someone I was working with told me that they had been to see Huey and his News at the Shepherds Bush Empire a few years ago. The magnitude of my jealousy surprised even me. I used to love the Sports album – which I bought from Woolworths in Bicester during a stay with my grandparents – so you can imagine how excited I was to hear I Want A New Drug playing in the background during this week's Glee. Maybe this will signal a path back from the critical badlands for Huey Lewis & The News. After all, it's working for Journey.
Or, er, maybe not.
(See part 1 of the We Are The World film here)