Album #212: The Real Thing – 4 From 8

  • Released: 1977
  • Origin: Liverpool, England
  • Label: Pye Records
  • Best Track: Children of the Ghetto (from Liverpool Medley)

I am absolutely no authority on soul, and am out of my comfort zone here, but that’s part of the challenge of this project, isn’t it?

This blog is inspired by watching a documentary about legendary Liverpool band The Real Thing on BBC Four on Friday. I knew very little about them (in fact I wasn’t even sure they were from Liverpool, even though it’s my nearest city), but I was intrigued to hear about their second album, 4 From 8.

The Real Thing had already made a name for themselves with their self-titled 1976 debut, and in particular the song ‘You To Me Are Everything’. However, fans who expected another batch of soulful love songs from their second LP were taken aback to see artwork featuring Liverpool’s dilapidated Stanhope Street, and edgier songs about their lives in Toxteth (L8 postcode). Hence, though admired by critics, the album sold poorly.

I’d have to say I think it’s pretty accessible though. Opening tracks ‘Love’s Such a Wonderful Thing’ and ‘Lovin’ You is Like a Dream’ sound like a continuation of that popular early sound. Things get a little rawer on the second half of the record, starting with the uptempo ‘Plastic Man’ and the funky cowbells of ‘Lightning Strikes Again’ (apt as I’m writing this in the midst of a thunderstorm).

As I expected, the best moment is final track ‘Liverpool Medley’, especially ‘Children of the Ghetto’, its lyrics unshielding (“In the concrete jungle filled with misery”) yet uplifting (“Keep your head to the sky”).

Sadly, sales suggested that 1977 didn’t want to hear about the children of the ghetto. Some might argue 2020 is still not really listening.

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