The Secret Policeman’s Ball was a Charity event organised by Amnesty International that involved comedy and music. It started back in 1976 and initially starred the Monty Python team.
After 1981 there was a 6 year hiatus and this album release marked a comeback, on a smaller scale. The shows from 1987 onwards were videotaped to be shown as TV specials and/or released on home video in Britain rather than filmed as movies with prospects for international release.
The earliest shows predated the proliferation of comedy and rock benefit shows that took place in the UK and US in the mid-1980s such as Live Aid, Farm Aid, Prince’s Trust concerts, The Free Nelson Mandela Concert and Comic Relief. Coincidentally, Midge Ure and Bob Geldof both worked on the 1981 show.
This was recorded over four nights (26–29 March 1987) at the London Palladium, they were divided up into two nights of comedy and two nights of music.
The Comedic performers included: Stephen Fry & Hugh Laurie, Mel Smith & Griff Rhys Jones, Dawn French & Jennifer Saunders, Ruby Wax, Hale and Pace, Lenny Henry, Rory Bremner, Robbie Coltrane, Ben Elton and the Spitting Image puppets.
Onto the album itself. Some unique collaborations and live renditions. Kate Bush does a rendition of “Running Up That Hill” with Floyd’s Gilmour adding some guitar, not the best sound mix but interesting hearing Bush live.
Duran Duran doing a perfect, acoustic version of “Save A Prayer”, now with only the 3 original members, Le Bon nails the vocals.
Lou Reed has a great set of backing vocalists for a stripped back version of “Voices Of Freedom.”
Bob Geldof howls his one real hit in another acoustic version, great backing vocals again on this poignant song.
Jackson Browne and guitar does a great version of “For Everyman”, audience in the palm of his hand.
A very early, live rendition by Erasure of “Victim Of Love” starts the second side, no doubt with his rubber suit on and with Derek Smith and Steve Myers on backing vocals. They would go on from this to do the major Circus Tour a few days later.
Another highlight is a rendition of Nik Kershaw’s classic, with full band and over enthusiastic keyboards.
Joan Armatrading nails the crowd with that powerful voice on “(I Love It When You) Call Me Names” and there is an acoustic instrumental involving the guitar legends, Mark Knopfler & Chet Atkins”
The classic show closer “Biko” see’s the now very popular, “Sledgehammer” era Gabriel return to his humanitarian roots. Still a tad overlong.
Virgin – V2458
|A1||Kate Bush With David Gilmour||Running Up That Hill||4:59|
|A2||Duran Duran||Save A Prayer (‘Til The Morning After)||5:05|
|A3||Lou Reed With Jackson Browne, Peter Gabriel & Youssou N’Dour||Voices Of Freedom||5:12|
|A4||Bob Geldof||This Is The World Calling||3:28|
|A5||Jackson Browne||For Everyman||4:31|
|B1||Erasure||Victim Of Love||3:59|
|B2||Nik Kershaw||Wouldn’t It Be Good||4:56|
|B3||Joan Armatrading||(I Love It When You) Call Me Names||3:20|
|B4||Mark Knopfler & Chet Atkins||Imagine||2:53|