I want to share with you all something I have been contemplating that I have dubbed Geldof’s Paradox. A few years back I heard Sir Bob being interviewed about Live Aid. He was explaining his concept of it as a “global jukebox” and went on to elaborate that this meant bands were supposed to play their biggest hits or most relevant songs – “not Album 5, Side 1, Track 3” he added sternly. His tone made it quite clear – playing Album 5, Side 1, Track 3 would be considered the unacceptable self-indulgence. Which made sense, until I thought “What if Album 5, Side 1 Track 3 is a band’s biggest hit or most relevant song? What happens then?”
I tried to think of bands that this might apply to and quickly realised the disturbing truth. If we go to Album 5 , Side 1 , Track 3 in The Clash’s discography we find Should I Stay Or Should I Go? – easily one of their biggest hits even before the reissue got to number 1. Could this really be coincidence? Strummer had once said that he would have loved to have done Live Aid but never got the call. And you only have to listen to a few Geldof interviews reminiscing about punk to notice a certain antipathy towards the “Westway Wonders”. Could Geldof’s formula have been a deliberate ploy to keep The Clash off the bill?!
I then remembered that, a few months before Live Aid, Killing Joke had made significant headway into the mainstream with Love Like Blood, which was …yes, Album 5 , Side 1, Track 3. On the very same album Kings And Queens featured the line “there’s so many hungry but I’m going to turn a blind eye” – surely striking the wrong note, and enough reason for Geldof to want to keep Joke, who were then on the up, off the bill. The evidence was mounting up
Or maybe “Album 5, Side 1, Track 3” was just a throwaway remark…I don’t know.
But my questions are – are there any major acts that would also have fallen foul of the Geldof track selection formula? Are there Album 5, Side 1, Track 3s that are indispensable classics in rock history? And does anyone know if any artists at Live Aid actually performed Album 5 , Side 1, Track 3? Over to you…