Starring: Darlene Love, Lisa Fischer, Merry Clayton, Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger, Lou Adler, Sting, Bette Midler, Sheryl Crow
Directed by: Morgan Neville
Synopsis: Back-up singers live in a world that lies just behind the spotlight. Their voices brings harmony to the biggest bands in popular music, but we have no idea who these singers are, or what lives they’ve lead, until now.
If you have any passing interest in rock and pop music in the sixties and seventies, then you may well have heard of some of these amazingly talented backing singers. Between the likes of Darlene Love, Merry Clayton and Lisa Fischer they have sung behind The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Luther Vandross, George Harrison, Ray Charles, Lynyrd Skynyrd and many, many more. You can see them live at concerts and you can hear them on some of the most famous records of all time. Who contributes those amazing, out there vocals with Mick Jagger on Gimme Shelter? Merry Clayton is who. Who backed George Harrison and band up during the Concert For Bangladesh? Claudia Lennear you will now know.
It’s a great documentary, not just because you get to see some of the amazing aforementioned bands in action, but because you get to put a name and face to some of the voices you’ve heard on your radio. Lisa Fischer, long term back up singer to The Rolling Stones is astonishingly good, and should have been a star in her own right. One person who was a star was Darlene Love, singer of Christmas (Baby please come home). She was given a raw deal after that by Phil Spector, quit the business and started cleaning houses. One day she heard that hit song one Christmas while carrying out her day job and decided enough was enough, she was heading back to music. By the end of the film she is being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.
It mostly triumphant stories like that, but there is a slight downbeat feel in places, where these talented singers hoped to make it on their own backs, but never quite managed it. Still, as a second career, singing with Stevie Wonder, Elton John , Joe Cocker and the like every night ain’t bad.
So, if you are an enthusiast of music from the sixties and seventies, of Blues rock in the main, them you will love this film as I did. If your not into that scene, you will still find much of interest I think.