“The Singer Sang His Song”: Leave Them Wanting More

In 1969 Columbia Special Products teamed up with the United Nations in order to help save the world’s refugee population using the proceeds from sales of star-studded hits collection, World Star Festival.  Interestingly, this musical arts venture in humanitarianism predates by nearly two years George Harrison’s groundbreaking benefit concert for the refugees from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in August 1971.

World Star FestivalAnd whereas most of the money from Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh was tied up for years in litigation, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, however, optimistically projected in his January 1970 report to the UN General Assembly:

“Although the final results of the sales of the new long-playing record World Star Festival were not yet available since sales were still continuing, it was already clear that this record would yield substantial profits for refugee assistance.  In this connexion, the High Commissioner emphasized the importance of Governments waiving taxes and duties on the record.  A full report on the subject would be submitted to the Committee at its next session.”

One of the top tunes on World Star Festival, “The Singer Sang His Song,” is a Bee Gees contribution that was part of a ‘double A-side’ – paired with “Jumbo” – that was originally released March 1968 (and available only on vinyl until 1990):

The Singer Sang His Song – Bee Gees

[Pssst:  Click the triangle above to play “The Singer Sang His Song” by The Bee Gees.]

Only in the UK,curiously, was this song listed as the A-side — otherwise, in the US, Canada, Netherlands, France, Germany, Austria, Singapore & Japan, “Jumbo” was the A-side.

Bee Gees - Jumbo EP

Each artist’s recording on World Star Festival (it later became clear to me) was shortened or altered in some way – presumably as a precondition for release in order to help facilitate participation among these top pop artists.  This realization really hit home once I had become intimately familiar with the World Star Festival version of “The Singer Sang His Song” – and then happened to hear the song’s original full-length mix on YouTube:

Lo and behold, the song’s tunesmith is Neil Diamond – not the Brothers Gibb (who, lest we not forget, laid down some of the earliest melodica sounds on a popular recording).

Moral of the story:

World Star Festival‘s short version brilliantly leaves the listener wanting more, while the full-length version with the additional minute of extended coda overstays its welcome, one could argue.

Afterword – from the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme

The Executive Committee,

(1) Noted with satisfaction that considerable progress had been made in the sale of the new long-playing record World Star Festival and that representatives of other United Nations agencies and of non-governmental organizations had contributed to these results;

(2) Expressed appreciation for the fact that a number of Governments had seen fit to waive taxes and import duties on the new record, or had agreed to the remission of such impositions, as recommended by the Committee in its earlier decision on the subject;

(3) Urged Governments which had not yet done so, to consider favourably the remission or refund of duties and taxes collected on the dale of World Star Festival.