Simon Sheridan’s solid, efficient documentary pays tribute to the Liverpudlian pop-soul beat combo the Real Thing, who had a No 1 in the UK with the smooth-grooving ballad You to Me Are Everything. That close-harmony mid-tempo jam from 1976, still a popular choice for wedding playlists and karaoke declarations of love, remains the group’s biggest claim to fame alongside their big-issue comment Children of the Ghetto and the disco-fied Star Wars cash-in Can You Feel the Force? But there is enough heft to the rest of their musical story and personal histories to make for an absorbing, considered feature-length documentary assembled out of the usual bricolage of talking-heads interviews with surviving members and friends, archive footage, and pop videos. As a package, it cross-references social history with musicology, making a tidy and touching tribute to a few square yards of British history.
Alongside several others, keystone members Chris and Eddie Amoo – brothers from Toxteth – offer recollections of their early breaks in the business. A particularly charming early section recounts how Eddie (who has since sadly died) ended up jamming with the Beatles in the Cavern Club just as the Fab Four were breaking big in the early 1960s. It was a little under a decade later that Eddie’s younger brother started the Real Thing with his friend Dave Smith, and after a bit of personnel reshuffling the group settled into its best-known lineup with Eddie joining alongside the children’s home survivor and later falsetto Ray Lake (who died 20 years ago).
It’s lucky that the Amoo brothers are so articulate, open-hearted and likable: they fill out the story, while others in their orbit such as David Essex, Billy Ocean and white songwriters Ken Gold and Michael Denne chip in details for the background. In other hands this might have been a sharper, more acidic look at race in the British music industry, but the film’s affability could draw in plenty of viewers.
Source: The Guardian