London Brixton Mass

Tricky one, the charity album. As admirable as they undoubtedly are, the music is usually utter cobblers....

TRICKY ONE, THE CHARITY ALBUM. AS admirable as they undoubtedly are, the music is usually utter cobblers. For just as you 'donate' your sister's stained Teletubbies doll to the local church jumble sale in the hope that a kindly old lady will embrace your shoddy goods for a 'good cause', so many bands palm off charity compilations with album cast-offs and cover version B-sides. In the end, no-one wants a crap record, regardless of its well-meant intentions.

Still, after Elton's 'Candle In The Wind', the world is a kinder, more compassionate place and the face of charity has enjoyed a slick revamp. It's cool to care, so let's do it.

Hence 'Across The Bridge Of Hope', a benefit album for the Omagh bomb tragedy fund, which brings together 13 Irish and Northern Irish artists, from Ash to U2, The Divine Comedy to The Corrs. Obviously there's rubbish present - Liam Neeson hamming up a poem by Seamus Heaney, Enya's freeze-dried rendition of 'Silent Night' - but Sinead O'Connor's breezy take on Abba's 'Chiquitita' and Ash's subdued 'I'm Gonna Fall' redress the balance.

If you've not bought a charity record since 1995's 'War Child', then realistically you'll probably never buy one again. This, however, is worth considering.

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