“Love Can Build A Bridge” has one of the best line-ups of any charity single – three women who have each made, on their day, magnificent pop records. What’s more, Cher and Hynde and Cherry aren’t off-form, phoning it in or smoothing themselves down – their voices blend and contrast in exactly the intriguing ways you might have expected.
And yet this is a tiresome record. It’s a simpering bore, a dose of pop castor oil, a lacklustre plod whose only appeal is the background sense you’re doing some good. What went wrong?
Maybe it’s just a mismatch of singers and material. What makes each of these three singers special on their best work is their different flair for drama – the way they use the grain of their individual voice (raucous or smoky or squeaky) to bring characters and situations alive – whether the characters are them or not. “Love Can Build A Bridge” doesn’t use that side of their talent – it’s a solemn song about togetherness in adversity, and what it requires from its singers is oaken solidarity, not individual spark. Hynde has a useful roughness as the song opens, but Cher is too much in blunderbuss mode and Cherry is underused. And then they all have to get out the way for Eric Clapton, anyhow, whose uninspired solo fits the trudge of the arrangement in general. It helped people, I guess, though you wouldn’t know it to listen.