THE REAL THING: It’s The Real Thing (Label: Castle )

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THE REAL THING: It's The Real Thing

Sadly, Liverpool’s the Real Thing hardly ever feature in soul histories. The reasons, I guess, are obvious… and we’ve just mentioned one. They came from Liverpool and the Culture Capital is, of course, best known for breezy, mop-top pop than searing soul. Then there’s the fact that they enjoyed a decent run of pop hits and some soul people often show distaste for commercial success. Add to that the fact that they were sometimes branded as David Essex’s backing vocalists and that their emergence was via the TV talent Show ‘Opportunity Knocks’ and you might understand why many soul folk steer clear of them. Well, those clear-steerers are missing out on a lot, ‘cos the Four From Eight offered a lot more genuine soul than some of their US contemporaries ever did. Let’s reveal their soul credentials. First the Real Thing predate the whole ‘Opportunity Knocks’ thing. Their roots lie in a Liverpool 60s soul quartet called The Chants who emerged from the Liverpool 8 ghetto. Consequently they knew as much about inner city prejudices and deprivations as anyone from Harlem or Watts. Then, in Chris Amoo they had a gritty vocalist whose conviction and passion could match the very best… TV viewers noted that early on in his blistering performance of ‘Grazing In The Grass’ on that telly talent show I’ve just mentioned. And the commercial success? Well, surely that’s the goal of every performer in any genre and there’s nowt wrong with royalties… and when you listen again to the hits like ‘You To Me Are Everything’ and ‘Can’t Get By Without You’ they’re really rather decent. But then dig deeper into the group’s catalogue and you’ll discover some real soul gems. ‘Children of The Ghetto’, for instance, has been covered by many soul luminaries and several serious jazzers, while the jaunty ‘Love Takes Tears’ recently re-surfaced on an Expansion ‘Village Soul’ collection. Then listen hard to stuff like ‘Stone Cold Love Affair’,’ Lovin’ You Is Like A Dream’, ‘You’ll Never Know What Your Missing’ and ‘Love Is Such A Wonderful Thing’ and you’ll draw favourable comparison to some of the best Philly vocal groups. Admittedly there are some blatant cheesy moments in the catalogue (‘Let’s Go Disco’, ‘Can You Feel The Force’), but hopefully this 39 track collection will help us all to reassess the Real Thing.
(BB) 4/5