The CD now in the stores and on the Internet is a new version of the 1984 hit song, created then and now as a statement to raise awareness about world hunger and spur world leaders into doing more to combat the problem.
Funds from the new recording will go towards helping victims of the ongoing strife in the Sudan, where fighting has killed thousands of people and created 1.8 million refugees.
The original single of the song written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure raised millions for victims of starvation in Ethiopia and featured artists including Boy George, Duran Duran, and Phil Collins.
U2 frontman and social activist Bono is the only artist to appear on both the 1984 recording and on the new recording, which features a lineup of artists called Band Aid 20 - a reference to the idea that ending world hunger requires a serious, strategic solution and not just a "band aid" for various edges of the problem.
"Twenty years after we sang for change, it's changed for the worse," say Band Aid 20's organizers, in a web site statement urging supporters to buy the CD to help the hungry while at the same time creating big sales numbers to put political pressure on G7 leaders. Leaders of the G7, the world's richest nations, meet in Britian this July - the anniversary week of the original benefit Band Aid record.
Band Aid 20's distinctly modern sound is the combined work of artists new and old. They include Paul McCartney and a host of newer stars from the British music scene: Keane, The Sugababes, Morcheeeba's Skye, Robbie Williams, Dido, Jamelia, Darkness' Justin Hawkins, Coldplay's Chris Martin, Travis' Fran Healy, Beverly Knight, Busted, Ms. Dynamite, Supergrass' Danny Goffey, Katie Melua, Will Young, Natasha Bedingfield, Snow Patrol, Shaznay Lewis, Joss Stone, Daniel Bedingfield, Rachel Stevens, The Thrills, Moloko's Roisin Murphy, Lernar, Estelle, Divine Comedy's Nell Hannon, Feeder and Dizzee Rascal.
HMV Records, one of Britain's largest music retailers, opened more than 200 stores an hour early, at 8 a.m., and reported strong early-morning sales for the single.
"There wasn't a huge rush of people, but a steady stream of customers this morning," said Gennaro Castaldo, a spokesman for HMV. "I don't know that it's going to be the smash success that the original was, but I think it will do quite well and raise quite a bit of money for Africa."
Castaldo said he expects the single to sell at least one million copies and to top the singles charts in Britain for several weeks.
Twins Sarah and Kirsty Burgess, 21, were the first in line to buy the single at HMV's flagship store in London on Oxford Street, the city's main shopping street.
"I thought I would come along because it's a great cause," said Kirsty. "I was about one when the first single was released, but I've heard it about 100 times. Hopefully, this one will raise lots of money, too."
HMV and other retailers are selling the song for $7.55. The song retails for $2.82 at online distributors.
It's also being sold online, through the Band Aid 20 Web site.
One place it can't be bought is online at Apple's iTunes, which is not carrying the single because it sells for more than the service's $1.50 base price. An Apple spokesman in London declined on Monday to comment on its dispute with the Band Aid trust over the cost of the recording.