Self Aid, 22 years on
Riley, the DJ who does the show after me on Phantom on Saturday nights, is a great man for blowing the dust off CDs you’d half-forgotten about. A while back, it was Into Paradise’s “Churchtown” album which made for some …
Riley, the DJ who does the show after me on Phantom on Saturday nights, is a great man for blowing the dust off CDs you’d half-forgotten about. A while back, it was Into Paradise’s “Churchtown” album which made for some nostalgia-tinged memories. Last Saturday, he arrived into the studio brandishing a copy of “Live for Ireland”, the album released after the Self-Aid love-in in May 1986. Sadly, a bit like the notion behind the concert itself, few of the performances have stood the test of time. But 22 years ago, every Irish musician of note who could hold an instrument in their hands converged on the RDS in Dublin to “highlight and help the unemployed”, to quote the sleeve-notes.
We were much more innocent in those days before the country became the republic of leisure it has been for the decade or so. Back then, the notion of having an all-day concert to come up with money and jobs for the unemployed was one to which many people subscribed.
Besides the concert at the RDS featuring the great, the good and the Cactus World News, there was also a RTE telethon where jobs and cash could be donated by the general public. If you had a spare job going in your office, hotel or shop, you could ring up the national broadcaster and they would add it to the total. The belief was that performances by U2, Paul Brady, Thin Lizzy, Scullion, Chris Rea (honourary Irishman back then), Christy Moore, Chris De Burgh (if your name was Chris, apparently, you were in), the Pogues, Bagatelle and The Fountainhead would encourage people to stand up, grab the phone and find jobs under their beds.
Shake your head now at such nonsense, but a couple of thousand jobs of one kind or another were plucked out of thin air. Whether these jobs actually came about as a result of the event or even produced long-term employment is a moot point. As we saw with events like Live 8 and Live Earth, rock extraganzas don’t solve economic, political or environmental problems, but are excellent opportunities for acts to use TV coverage to give their own releases a promotional boost.
Hey, now there’s an idea. Maybe we need a Self Aid 2 to help a ton of new Irish acts flog some of those CDs and paid-for downloads they’re having problems shifting? You could always use the idea that a big ol’ concert would help to re-address the economic downturn which is just around the corner. I’m sure one of the mobile phone companies would be happy to come onboard with some sponsorship love (Self Aid – Make The Most of Now sounds like a good tag to me). Any takers? Or am I opening a can of worms here?