Rock stars band together for Bosnia

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The Independent Online
DANNY PENMAN

Britain's finest rock bands collaborated on an "instant album" yesterday to help the dispossessed of Bosnia.

Help!, as the album is known, was recorded and produced throughout the day in studios across Europe and the United States, to try to capture the musical equivalent of a front-line war story.

Blur, Noel Gallagher of Oasis, Neneh Cherry, the Stereo MCs, Massive Attack, Suede, Radiohead, Portishead, Paul Weller and the Stone Roses are among those who contributed to the album. All the songs were recorded and produced by midnight, in order to push the performers to their limits and bring out their competitive edges.

Work started on editing the album early this morning and later this afternoon the master tapes will be flown by helicopter to a CD pressing-plant in Blackburn. Other masters will be dispatched to Holland.

Go! Discs, the label which is organising the project, hopes to have 300,000 copies for distribution on Friday, ready to hit the streets on Saturday morning. They hope that massive sales over the weekend will catapult it straight to the top of the British album charts.

The organisers also hope to put one of the first pressings on a relief convoy bound for Sarajevo, so that it can have its world premiere on Bosnian radio. But the current volatile situation around the besieged city following Nato air strikes may prevent the convoy from getting through in time.

"Obviously, given the situation, we are monitoring things very carefully, and if we are advised it's just too hot, it will not be able to go," said a spokesman for Go! Discs.

All of the musicians are donating their time for free. Many have written new songs or are performing music that they have never committed to tape before. Go! Discs and the distributors and retailers have all agreed to give their services at cost price.

The money raised will be donated to War Child, a charity dedicated to helping the suffering children of Bosnia. The charity has already set up a bakery in Mostar and regularly ferries in supplies of insulin and syringes for diabetics.

War Child has already spent pounds 45,000 of an advance given by Go! Discs to fund a medical team of 10 nurses and four doctors to travel to Travnik.

They will also expand their diabetic aid programme and are funding a mobile clinic being sent to Bihac and a convoy of medical supplies for distribution throughout hospitals in Bosnia.

War Child is also funding a project to provide meals to school children in Olovo, in the north-east of the country.

The school meals project, organised by The Serious Road Trip, is to encourage traumatised children to return to school by providing them with one good meal a day.

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