Band Aid, the remake, is given a charitable reception by the critics

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The Independent Online

You know it's Christmas when DJs start playing Band Aid, and yesterday the re-recording of the world's most famous charity single went on the airwaves for the first time, sparking a fierce debate as to whether it is worthy of the original.

You know it's Christmas when DJs start playing Band Aid, and yesterday the re-recording of the world's most famous charity single went on the airwaves for the first time, sparking a fierce debate as to whether it is worthy of the original.

Some thought the remake of "Do They Know It's Christmas?", featuring the cream of today's rock and pop world, better than the original. Others said it was worse. But most pointed out that its impact - released to raise money for food aid for East Africa, including Darfur in Sudan - rather than its quality, was of most importance.

Nicky Campbell, who played the track on his Radio Five Live breakfast show at 8am, described the remake as "more melancholy" than the original. "It's slightly more soulful than the original as well," he said.

It was also broadcast on Radios 1 and 2 and commercial stations.

The Virgin radio breakfast DJ Pete Mitchell declared the new rendition superior to the 1984 version, co-written and masterminded by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, to raise money for famine-hit Ethiopia. In the 2004 recording, the Coldplay front man Chris Martin sings the opening line, followed by appearances from Dido, Robbie Williams, the Sugababes and Fran Healey of Travis.

The rapper Dizzee Rascal gives the record an up-to-date urban touch, while the teenage soul singer Joss Stone, Jamelia, Ms Dynamite and Tom Chaplin from the band Keane also sing.

Twenty years ago, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" was sung by the likes of George Michael, Duran Duran, Bananarama and U2. In the 2004 version, only the U2 front man Bono makes a reappearance. He performs the same line he sang in 1984, which was also recorded by Justin Hawkins from The Darkness.

Mitchell described the new version, which features Radiohead's Thom Yorke on the piano and Danny Goffey from Supergrass on the drums, alongside The Darkness on guitars and Sir Paul McCartney on bass, as "a lot, lot better".

"The record is 20 years old, but because you hear it every Christmas it's still quite fresh in our heads. I've got to say the new version is a superior version. It will probably supersede the original version," he said yesterday.

Chris Hawkins, a presenter on BBC 6 Music, told Five Live: "It brings it bang up to date. It has all the contemporary artists that you expected. They have done a good job on updating it. What this record had to do was to cover all the bases. These sort of records have to make an immediate impact."

Gareth Grundy, deputy editor of the music magazine Q, said the musical merit of the new recording is not the main issue at stake.

"It's a hugely worthwhile exercise. Whether people think the record is good or bad has never really been the point of Band Aid. It's more about using the power of celebrity to focus on something. I think even Midge Ure and Bob Geldof wouldn't say the single was one of the greatest in the pop canon."

Mark Ellen, editor of Word magazine, said yesterday: "We loved the line by Bono - 'Well tonight, thank God, it's them instead of us'. He is furiously competing with his own performance last time round. We thought Dizzee Rascal sounded a bit isolated from the others in the middle. But where are the Christmas bells?"

Neil Fox, the Capital FM DJ, said: "Love it or hate it, it gave me goosebumps when I first heard it. It stirs up real feelings of nostalgia for me. There's no point criticising it or comparing it to the original, just realise the cause behind it and enjoy it for what it is."

Christian O'Connell, an Xfm DJ, said: "It's easy to be cynical, but the most important thing is that the song will raise a lot of money and make a difference to those who have nothing. Bearing in mind what is happening in Sudan, it's almost irrelevant criticising the song - that's not really the point."

The singer Will Young, who performs on the single recorded on Sunday at Sir George Martin's Air Studios in Hampstead, north London, joined the Radio1 DJ Chris Moyles in the studio for the track's debut. He urged listeners to "Get out there, buy the single, buy two copies. People have to be less selfish and start thinking about others. I feel very passionate about it. Since Sunday, it's really gripped me."

The single will be released on Monday 29 November at a recommended price of £3.99.

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