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As we approach the annual evening of madness and mayhem that is this year's Children in Need night, I'm going to look back a couple of years to another charity extravaganza: Comic Relief 2007. In particular, to the record that was released in connection with the event. It wasn't a long one by any means, consisting of just three tracks, each a version of the same song, but although that necessarily means that this isn't going to be the longest music review I've ever written there is enough here to be worth considering.
The song chosen for the record was the slightly unwieldily-titled "(I'm Gonna Be) 500 Miles" by long-standing, bespectacled, very Scottish folk rockers The Proclaimers. This was the track that propelled the duo to international stardom after it was included on the soundtrack of the hit 1993 film Benny & Joon, five years after its initial release on the album Sunshine On Leith. It's not my favourite Proclaimers song (that would be the fantastic "I'm On My Way", from the same album, which I think would also have worked very well for this disc) but it's probably their best known release, and as such suitable for a project such as this.
Comic Relief singles are known for their employment of big-name comedians on the records, and in this case we have two in their screen personas: "Brian Potter", Peter Kay's character from Phoenix Nights, and "Andy Pipkin", one half of Lou and Andy from Little Britain. The first track on the disc sees the two singing the song relatively straight, with just a few little comedic touches (such as "roll 500 miles" in recognition of Andy's wheelchair); I think this works better than going overboard might have done. The Proclaimers themselves only make an appearance about halfway through the track, but this is handled almost seamlessly as the song builds to its foot-stomping climax. Stay right to the end: the final comment is priceless.
Track two is the "real" version of the song, as heard on "ordinary" albums, with The Proclaimers doing their stuff without any contribution from the comedians. It's an excellent song, as I've already stated, and worth listening to all the way through even when you've already heard the sillier opening track. The third and final track on this disc is a karaoke version of the song. I'm not much of a fan of karaoke, so don't find this particularly interesting, although it's a professional enough rendition with a good, strong beat to follow.
This record is no longer available new from Amazon - although a DVD version, featuring Cilla Black and David Tennant, no less, is for about £4, and the audio version is not hard to find second-hand for peanuts. If you just want to hear the songs, though, the best way is to get them free via Spotify (and donate some money to the charity yourself if such freeloading pricks at your conscience). It may seem a little strange listening to a charity record two years after its release, but this is worth at least a few minutes of your time, and may even get you in a generous mood for Friday!
This was the Comic Relief single for 2007 and The Proclaimers were wisely chosen to do the honours. It was great to see them back in the charts and more exciting to see them storming to number one!
Who are they:
Proclaimers are identical twins Charlie and Craig Reid, both wear glases and have thick Scottish accent when they sing. They first hit the charts with 'Letter From America' almost twenty years prior to this going to number one.
On this release:
You get the Proclaimers teaming up with Matt Lucas and Peter Kay to produce a good single with impeccable comic timing. The comedians do not overpower the song and allow the magic of the original song to remain intact. The song builds to a stomping chant-along chorus. I do feel the chorus goes a bit too long at the end though and could have been trimmed by a good ten seconds.
On the single you also get a singalong version, just so you annoy your mates! It is not the kind of release which lends itself to remixes so you won;t find any on offer here. Keep in mind, the single was primarily for charity so you're really buying it for the lead track anyway.
Thoughts: One of the better comic relief songs. Better than 'The Stonk' for sure, but not quite as good as 'Amirillo'
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)
2 I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)
3 I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)
4 I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)