May 13


Popular42 comments • 6,419 views

#717, 25th March 1995

“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.



  1. 1
    Kat but logged out innit on 23 May 2013 #



  2. 2
    thefatgit on 23 May 2013 #

    Is this the dullest Comic Relief record ever?

  3. 3
    thefatgit on 23 May 2013 #

    This video however, is something to behold…


  4. 4
    JLucas on 23 May 2013 #

    I find this record inexplicably hilarious. It is, of course, complete dreck. But whenever I’m in a crowded pub with a jukebox, I put this on and piss myself laughing while my friends sigh and try not to look like they know me.

    I think it’s the leadenness and über-sincerity of the thing. It just cracks me up.

  5. 5
    Mark G on 23 May 2013 #

    It’s on jukeboxes? Blimey..

    This got a semi-pass for not being a lousy comedy single once more, all of which were getting less and less funny as they went on..

    It’s the musical equivalent of the serious documentary after the amusing sketchy bits involving random BBC tv show cast members. Something to make everyone go ‘yes, but let’s not lose sight of why we are here..’

  6. 6
    lonepilgrim on 23 May 2013 #

    I don’t remember the song which is not surprising as I can’t remember it after a gap of 10 minutes

    it takes a special talent to take three such strong talents and make such a forgettably bland song.

    even the use of the word ‘can’ rather than ‘will’ or ‘must’ is passive

  7. 7
    Chelovek na lune on 23 May 2013 #

    Dull Dull Dull Dull Dull Dull. Almost criminally dull for such a talented conglomeration of artists.

    Though the original is also dull dull dull dull dull, if with rather less “late 80s soft rock instrumentation revived for the mid 90s preusmably to persuade people by now in at least their late 20s to dip into their pockets for charity, mate”.

    It seems wrong that this is the only legitimate chance that we have to discuss the incomparable Neneh Cherry here, but well, it was tax evasion that got Al Capone behind bars, so..

    She should have interrupted Eric Clapton’s guitar wank by doing her genuinely timeless “Whatz ‘e like? Whatz ‘e like anyway? Yo’ man what do you expect the guy’s a gigolo… man…You know wotti mean? ” routine. That would have been a real comic relief.

    I really have no idea why she is on this record at all (although the different timbre and texture of her voice works as a good compliment to those of de rockier chicks, even though she is very clearly the 3rd-ranking on the bill), or what the idea behind inviting her was (raising her profile just before a new album?). She wasn’t mega-prolific, but I think I can say with some confidence that this was by some way the worst track she was involved with (*well, unless she was on Band Aid 2, which she may have been. But actually this is still duller than that uninspired confection) . Even though for something that is clearly not one of her preferred styles, she performs admirably. Indeed so much so that in an alternate universe it raises the possibility of her being in a band like Vixen, adding her touch to numbers like “Love Made Me” and “Cryin'”.

  8. 8
    will on 23 May 2013 #

    Perhaps the only good thing you could say about it is that it’s actually quite funny (unintentionally, of course). Funnier than The Stonk, anyway.

  9. 9
    Patrick Mexico on 23 May 2013 #

    Jumping Jack Christ, what the hell is this.

    It’s like they wanted to beat the Simpsons and Sting’s We’re Sending Our Love Down The Well at its own game.

    The ill-advised photo montage backdrop of African poverty aside (because the singers seem even more in on the joke of the music than we are), from the video I find this far funnier than any “comedy” Comic Relief single.

    Highlights include Clapton’s guitar solo barging its way in uninvited, as if we aren’t a decade on from Edge of Darkness (with the first episode’s CND meeting where every adult male under 25 was the lovechild of Martika and Jim Reid) and Hynde shoving Cherry in the forehead at the end – presumably in retaliation for looking like Diego Forlan’s mum. And it’s a very incongruous appearance from three experienced, talented heads, as if they’d been picked out of a hat at random. How about Kylie, Kate Jackson (ificouldtellyouthatitwasthelongblondesandnotthecharliesangelsoneforonedayyourworldwouldn’tfallapart*) and Azaelia Banks for 2015?

    Infinitely funnier than Rednex, though that was for a cause that benefitted virtually nobody but the syringing of adult eardrums; but the kitschest number 1 of the decade used the least promising ingredients to create something really quite likeable.. to the prepubescent, and misguided suburban line-dancer anyway. This was ostensibly for a good cause, but not particularly tastefully, it nearly caused me to die laughing.


    I have nothing else to add other than this beautiful slice of comic disbelief I found today. What is it like, it’s like a juggalo, man.


    * Sorry. I won’t do this again on Popular. Well, I’ll only do it twice.

  10. 10
    ciaran on 23 May 2013 #

    ‘When we stand together, It’s our finest Hour’ they sing. Afraid not ladies.This is dreadful.Nothing about it works. Neneh’s worst record with her name on it and I would say Hynde’s too were it not for the ghastly I Got You Babe.Cher would put you to sleep here aswell.Clapton just only makes things worse which takes some doing.

    Almost as bad as Ferry Aid’s ‘Let It Be’ in 87.Though its currently bottom of the pile with a 0 mark I would think 2 is about right.

    I recorded TOTP almost every thursday back in 1995 so I’m familiar with this as a result but were it not for that I wouldnt have known it existed.

    Up until 1995 I would reckon this is the most forgotten number 1 of the 90s and that (with the bunny standing on my head here) not many chart toppers for the rest of the decade have vanished without a trace like this did.I never heard this on the radio during its reign and its never been played on any radio station I’ve listened to since.

  11. 11
    DanH on 23 May 2013 #

    I never heard this version until recently….but oh am I familiar with the country original by the Judds. In 1993 or so, my elem school incorporated this in every program/assembly possible. 9 year old me considered this a slight improvement over the previous year’s ubiquitous school hit Achy Breaky Heart, but not by much.

  12. 12
    mapman132 on 24 May 2013 #

    I wasn’t going to comment on this initially, but what the heck? This wasn’t released in the US to my knowledge, and I never heard the Judds version either, so this is my first time hearing it. I actually don’t mind these kind of singles as much as some here, so I’d probably give it a middle-of-the-road 5, maybe even a 6 if I was feeling generous. Surprised no one’s commented on the oddity of this being Clapton’s only UK#1. Of course, his only US#1 was also unlikely – a cover of a tune more associated with Bob Marley.

  13. 13
    swanstep on 24 May 2013 #

    Haw haw, the wiki entry for this reads ‘…was released and reached #1 in the UK charts for a week and won a Academy Award for Best Original Music.’ Nice.

    I don’t have much to add to Tom’s review of this record; it’s not completely terrible by any means and maybe even works well as a call to duty to be charitable, but it plods and it’s almost impossible to imagine anyone choosing to listen to this if there was anything else from Cher, etc. … around to choose from (which there always will be).

    Clapton’s wailing here reminds me of the guitar on TLC’s sultry Red Light Special from around this time (the single between Creep and Waterfalls from CrazySexyCool, the inescapable album of ’95 in the US; RLS seemed to be where they reeled in the boys).

  14. 14
    weej on 24 May 2013 #

    The ITV Telethon – their answer to Comic Relief / Children In Need – was cancelled after their epic 27-hour 1992 broadcast managed to raise less money than expected, and (more importantly perhaps) spurred protests from disability rights groups insulted by their patronising portrayal in the short films repeated throughout the day to encourage viewers to cough up some cash.

    These spots – essentially adverts – seem to be an essential feature of these programmes, though I wonder if they’d be better off without them. The standard set by the pre-Live Aid clips from Ethiopia was arguably a special case, but the examples since always seem to leave a bad taste in my mouth. Well-intentioned as they may be, the effect seems to be a cynical arousal of pity in order to hit targets – never a hint of societal, national or personal culpability or a mention of the political causes or solutions for these problems – just make them cry, make them phone, we’ll take care of the rest – then you can forget about them until next year.

    Comic Relief – in my mind at least – was supposed to be different from the ‘Sending Our Love Down The Well’ template mentioned by Patrick @ #9. Instead of bombarding viewers with demands it was supposed to be entertaining – we’d get a new episode of Blackadder, then with a few gentle nudges we’d cough up. The previous #1s we’ve seen and most of those to come follow this rule pretty well, being comedy records of one sort or another. The Stonk, for example, is terrible by any reasonable standard – but it makes pre-teens laugh, and that’s about as much as it sets out to do.

    Then in 1995 the powers that be decided that instead of a comedy single for a comedy event it would be better to record an all-star tear-jerking charity single for use behind their film clips and montages. Four fanbases and for charity too – that was enough to get it to the top of the charts, but the sentiment stinks. Bad music, misuse of talented musicians (& Clapton), horrible production and an overwhelming air of feel-good seriousness when none is needed about a cause that nobody involved wanted to engage with at all. Even The Stonk is preferable. 1.

  15. 15
    punctum on 24 May 2013 #

    In 1995 Comic Relief decided to become serious and big budget. After 1993’s truly abysmal number four smash “Stick It Out” by a below par Right Said Fred (“and Friends,” said “Friends” including Jools Holland and sundry underemployed British comedians and actors of the period) this was perhaps no bad idea, but the end result, with its whimpers of walking across the desert sans shoes and joining the tribes of man, sounds like any generic post-“We Are The World” charity record with performances ‘phoned in from celebrities who had long since demonstrably proved that they were capable of better; the ritual upward tuggings of Soul and overstated Passion are more than the poor old Judds song can bear. One wishes that they had used 1994’s Youssou N’Dour/Neneh collaboration “7 Seconds” instead – in Britain a number three hit which stayed on the chart for almost six months and outsold many of that year’s number ones – a record whose quiet power works because of its anti-grandstanding, its intensely intimate suggestions of telepathy; whereas with “Love Can Build A Bridge,” I nod my head sagely, take in the message and lose interest approximately seven seconds after it has ended, or (given that it was produced by Peter Asher) petered out.

  16. 16
    anto on 24 May 2013 #

    Whoaa. It’s not that bad everyone. It’s not that good I’ll grant you but worse than the other comic relief records?? All of them?
    I think the problem here is a sense of disappointment, firstly because it’s not aiming to be funny (as a matter of fact I mis-remembered it as a song for the more sober Children in Need which it would be better suited to) and secondly because it’s almost a definition of being less than the sum of its parts. Really though this would be a dull, banal song whoever it was given to.
    In its defence its a lot less obnoxious than some of the other Red Nose Day offerings and at least it means Neneh Cherry appears on Popular.

  17. 17
    James BC on 24 May 2013 #

    I’d have liked this song a lot more if they’d picked a proper one-off group name instead of that absurdly long co-credit. My suggestions:

    – The Comical Relievers
    – The Africa Savers
    – The Supergroup
    – The Hilarious Red-Nose Fun-Time Band feat. Cher

  18. 18
    wichita lineman on 24 May 2013 #

    NOW! watch: this cropped up on Disc 2 of Now 30, which is a right old mixture (Sting followed by SUAD is very K-Tel). I’m especially fond of Mike & the Mechanics’ Over My Shoulder – what we used to call ‘test music’. Oh, Disc 2 is bunnied for now.

    Freak Power : “Turn On, Tune In, Cop Out”
    Janet Jackson : “Whoops Now”
    Boyzone : “Love Me for a Reason”
    Cher, Chrissie, Neneh, Eric : “Love Can Build a Bridge”
    East 17 : “Stay Another Day”
    Mike + The Mechanics : “Over My Shoulder”
    Jimmy Nail : “Crocodile Shoes”
    Scarlet : “Independent Love Song”
    Simple Minds : “She’s a River”
    The Boo Radleys : “Wake Up Boo!”
    The Human League : “Tell Me When”
    M People : “Sight for Sore Eyes”
    Sting : “This Cowboy Song”
    Shut Up and Dance : “Save It ‘Til The Mourning After”
    R. Kelly : “Bump n’ Grind”
    Eternal : “Oh Baby I…”
    Massive Attack featuring Tracey Thorn : “Protection”
    Portishead : “Glory Box”
    Oasis : “Whatever”

  19. 19
    pootle on 24 May 2013 #

    This is so dullissimo. Although oddly enough, “Buffalo Stance” is the only rap I can perform perfectly. yanowoimean?

  20. 20
    Billy Hicks on 24 May 2013 #

    First heard this at about 1-2am, waking up in front of my TV having fallen asleep during Comic Relief 2001 (yes, 2001) and thinking it was a brand new song. And, also, for the first few seconds in my half-asleep daze, thinking one of them was Davina McCall.

    That’s about the only thing I can say about this song.

  21. 21
    Steve Mannion on 24 May 2013 #

    #18 ‘Sting followed by SUAD is very K-Tel’

    A schoolboy error – of course SUAD must always dance BEFORE The Police come.

  22. 22
    Tom on 24 May 2013 #

    #21 *applause*

    #10 it is obscure I guess, I remembered it as being at #1 much longer, for some reason – the gravity of its purpose so massive that it STRETCHED TIME in its chart vicinity.

  23. 23
    Kat but logged out innit on 24 May 2013 #

    #18 Now 30 was the last installment that I bought in the 1990s (being on the verge of switching to Britpop-compilation-a-geddon ‘Best Album In The World… Ever’s). When I got to ‘Glory Box’ I was knocked for six, spent my next pocket money on the cassette of ‘Dummy’ and a black velvet floppy hat and THE GOTH PHASE COMMENCED.

    The rest of the comp isn’t bad either, some absolute bangers on disc 2 – even the M People and Oasis tracks are above average for them. The only ones I can’t bear to listen to now are ‘Whoops Now’ (Tena lady advert soundtrack if ever there was one) and the forthcoming bunny. ‘Hoochie Bootie’ by Ultimate Kaos, now there’s a tune….

  24. 24
    punctum on 24 May 2013 #

    Ah, NOW 30, as referenced in one of my favourite novels. I bought it on double cassette from Our Price in Hammersmith (King’s Mall) and still have it.

  25. 25
    James BC on 24 May 2013 #

    Here are some more credits that would have been better than “Cher, Chrissie Hynde and Neneh Cherry with Eric Clapton”:

    – Cherichricherry
    – The “Love Can Build A Bridge” Singers
    – The Po Faces
    – Quadruple Act
    – The Non-Stonkers
    – Neneh Cherry, Eric Clapton and Cher with Chrissie Hynde

  26. 26
    Patrick Mexico on 25 May 2013 #

    Don’t much care for Cher, but I might do, albeit when we discuss her more later in arguably even more dubious contexts. Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders were alright. Neneh Cherry was a pop chameleon – loved Rip Rig and Panic and how she crash landed into the Bristol urban scene, sleeping in Massive Attack’s front doorway and sharing some amazing ideas, and though a lot of her first album has not aged well she was often quite brilliant, especially on Manchild, Kisses on the Wind and Buffalo Stance… but with my customary audacity, following on from my comments on Think Twice, here are the bad lads behind the bike sheds and Neneh united in holy matrimony on this cover… don’t take the first comment too seriously, he meant to say, “Good song but are you affiiiated with Flowered Up?”


  27. 27
    swanstep on 26 May 2013 #

    @Patrick, 26. Cher’s worth springing for at least a post-Believe Greatest Hits Collection in my view. That’s what I have, and there’s not a duff track on it, and the peaks are outstanding – one of those coming up, un-Bunnied in 1996.

  28. 28
    Faloola Chong on 27 May 2013 #

    This really was a shocker, especially considering that the previous year’s Comic Relief single was the Pet Shop Boys’, er, absolutely fabulous ‘Absolutely Fabulous’. Now THAT should have been No. 1!

  29. 29
    MBI on 27 May 2013 #

    Don’t ya think it’s time… don’t ya think it’s time. *smiles wisely*

    I want to punch this song.

  30. 30
    fivelongdays on 28 May 2013 #

    @9 – Back in the day, I learned the director of Transport For London was called Tim O’Toole. Oh, how I laughed.

  31. 31
    Another Pete on 28 May 2013 #

    Clearly Chris Morris, and the respective casts of Father Ted and the Fast Show, all said no to doing a single. After all as were seemingly told repeatedly in 1995 ‘comedy was the new rock ‘n roll.’ That said Vic and Bob worked with EMF later in the year to cover I’m a Believer, which could easily of been mistaken for a Comic Relief release.

  32. 32
    Billy Hicks on 28 May 2013 #

    #31 – Leading, to this day, people of a certain age to clap their hands thricely and shout “OI!” at various points in the song, mimicking the EMF cover. For what was meant at the time as a silly cover version, its legacy seems to have lasted surprisingly well.

    And then there’s Roy Chubby Brown slightly destroying ‘Living Next Door to Alice’ forever in the same year. As we’ll see with some later chart toppers, 1995 seems to be the point where swearing in songs became cool and hitmaking.

  33. 33
    ciaran on 28 May 2013 #

    #22 – If is wasn’t for this project I doubt I would ever have heard LCBAB again. I’m sure I can remember every number 1 after this until 1999.

    #31 – Whatever about the other 2 Father Ted did not begin until around May 1995 so it was well after comic relief time. Even then the entire cast was unknown and the show itself only gained classic status after the flawless second series in 1996.

  34. 34
    Mark G on 29 May 2013 #

    It took about three episodes, really

  35. 35
    Ed on 29 May 2013 #

    @26 “Neneh Cherry was a pop chameleon”.

    Too right. It’s a mighty long way from LCBAB to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jovsxh8FeYo

  36. 36
    Patrick Mexico on 29 May 2013 #

    #31 – Speaking of Chris Morris… holy crap, listen to the preposterous German Eurodance act Real McCoy (though I guess all’s not lost.. call them Mr Vain, call them Mr Wrong, call them a poor man’s Magic Affair)’s Run Away, released a few weeks earlier and hitting a peak of number 6. The rap, “Don’t get your hopes up” subject matter and execution of the record are pure Ted Maul. And this.. well.. it’s (sorry) using hate to build a bridge. Is this what they fought the Hacienda wars for?

    “”Run Away” has two music videos. The first video was made for the European market and contains a desert-like setting with Patsy singing while walking in the desert. The second video made for the North American market, which featured heavy allusions to George Orwell’s “1984”, was rejected by their North American record label Arista Records for its ‘dark’ imagery. Arista chose to use the less stark European video in its place. The North American video was directed by Nigel Dick and contains a factory-setting with many overworked ‘slave-like’ workers meanwhile Olaf Jeglitza plays the role of ‘Big Brother’ monitoring all progress and demanding the capitalist workers to work harder while yelling at them in typical German fascist manner.”

  37. 37
    mintness on 30 May 2013 #

    The (Aforementioned) Real McCoy subsequently turned up as part of Poland’s 2006 Eurovision effort. Nobody was entirely sure why, least of all the televoting public.


  38. 38
    Billy Hicks on 30 May 2013 #

    The Now 30 version of Run Away – and, indeed, all sorts of ‘Now Dance 95’ etc spinoffs – cuts out the rap entirely, which is a shame. That and Another Night are utter tunes, though. We’re kinda coming to the end of the Eurodance phase after its 1993-4 peak, although we’ve got one of the biggest tracks of the genre yet to come…

  39. 39
    Patrick Mexico on 30 May 2013 #

    Re 37: Poland gave Germany Podolski and Klose, they return the favour with that (and a singer who looks like a crust punk from Hebden Bridge seemingly sniffing the girl’s crotch at the end.) World War III on the cards?

    Re 38: I really quite like Another Night but it’s one of the cheesiest songs ever recorded. Not necessarily a buzzkill but I don’t like using “cheese” as an informal adjective any more than old school marms like using the word “nice.” But that, the Bronski Beat-sampling Automatic Lover and It’s On You (for the guitar solo alone) are prime slices of Cathedral City. On toast. WITH WORCESTER MOTHERFREAKIN’ WORCESTER SAUCE.

    Sorry, got a bit carried away there.

    In fact, as well as Cotton Eye Joe, the former’s one of the “bad example’ tracks used on Kerrang! Radio ads, given the good ones feature C******y (1) I somewhat doubt their authority to declare “death to false metal.”

    The Ted Maul/Uzi Lover bit was CUT? Criminal. Yes, depending on your kitsch-o-meter, there’s some very interesting slices of Eurodance to come – after the unexpected and brilliant feedback on Omen III in Popular ’94, can’t wait to dissect future bunnies. That alone is motivation to carry on Popular till the bitter end. (Not quite the video for Morrissey’s Interesting Drug!)

    (1) Censored less because they’re a bunny, and more because they’re crap.

  40. 40
    Erithian on 4 Jun 2013 #

    Seems I’m alone in actually liking this! Cold do with a bit less of Cher’s “blunderbuss mode” in Tom’s phrase, but apart from that the voices work well together and Neneh, looking very much a team player, enjoys herself with the better-known names and contributes a lovely sweet vocal. Clapton is restrained rather than flashy (though not dull as fas as I’m concerned) and although I can see why some would find it all terribly worthy, for me it was a deserved number one.

  41. 41
    enitharmon on 27 Jul 2013 #

    Struggling to find a better slot to say farewell to JJ Cale, blues guitarist, songwriter, inspiration to the likes of Mark Knopfler (who picked up his guitar style) and Eric Clapton (who covered a couple of his songs and thus stole much of the credit due to Cale who was a fine but underrated performer in his own right.

    As Clapton it namechecked here it will have to do.

    Not to be confused with John Cale, of course.

  42. 42
    Gareth Parker on 3 May 2021 #

    This is a tough one to get through, granted. On second thoughts I think I prefer Stick it Out or The Stonk to this! 2/10.

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