The cast

Oral histories




You don't get a more credible start to your career than Eddie Amoo; his band, The Chants, made their debut appearance at The Cavern in Liverpool, playing three songs in the middle of a Beatles gig. That was 1962. Fourteen years later Eddie finally had his first hit, as a member of The Real Thing, Britain's first disco band.

Like everyone else in Liverpool, The Chants got a record deal during the Merseybeat explosion of 1963/64, in their case with Pye, but - as Eddie points out - 'they had no idea what to do with a black doo-wop group, they just had no idea.' Over the next decade they released a string of singles, some of them - 'Man Without A Face' and 'Trying Trying' - very good indeed, but all of them unsuccessful.

By the early 70s The Chants were wedded firmly to the cabaret circuit, and Eddie was looking outside the group to satisfy his creativity. He began writing songs with his younger brother, Chris Amoo, and these songs became the basis of the material performed by Chris' group The Real Thing.

The Real Thing appeared on Opportunity Knocks and Top of the Pops, were managed by British showbiz legend Tony Hall, and were critical favourites on both sides of the Atlantic - even so they went through a succession of record companies and flop singles before they finally made it. When they did, it was because of a variety of factors. Firstly, David Essex used them as backing vocalists on his 1975 album All The Fun of the Fair, and on his subsequent tour, for which they were also the support act in their own right. Then the rise of disco made the idea of black British bands more acceptable to the broadcast media and the record industry. And finally they were given a perfect pop song by writer Ken Gold: 'You To Me Are Everything'.

The combination took The Real Thing to #1 in Britain in 1976 and Eddie Amoo - who had finally wound up The Chants and joined his brother's band at the end of the previous year - got his first decent break. The fact that 'You To Me' and some of the subsequent releases were more pop than soul may have typecast the group somewhat unfairly, but there were some heavier records as well; Eddie would particularly like to draw your attention to Four From Eight, their 1977 album that comes close to the socio-soul of their hero Curtis Mayfield. (The 'Eight' in the title refers to Liverpool Eight, the district where the band lived.) It also contains their greatest recorded moment, 'Children of the Ghetto'.

The Real Thing are still working on the live circuit and still feature Chris and Eddie Amoo. Go see them, partly because you need to pay respect to Britain's disco pioneers, and partly because they're damn good.

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'You guys have got to give us something we can sell'
The Real Thing finally make it big

Eddie Amoo
Ken Andrew
Dave Bartram
Mike Batt
Wayne Bickerton
David Blaylock
Trevor Bolder
Jacko Boogie
Tony Burrows
Sally Carr
Tina Charles
David Courtney
Rob Davis
Richard Dodd
Patrick Doonan
Ray Dorset
Herbie Flowers
Ken Gold
Graham Gouldman
Dave Hill
Harvey Hinsley
John Hughes
Jim Irvin
Jimmy James
Steve Jones
Lorraine Kelly
Paul Layton
Les McKeown
Russell Mael
Johnny Moore
Mike Moran
Chris Norman
Bill Oddie
David Paton
Lyn Paul
Phil Pickett
Suzi Quatro
Chris Rae
Chris Redburn
Norman Rogerson
Ron Roker
John Rossall
Andy Scott
Eddie Seago
Mat Snow
Chris Spedding
John Springate
Ray Stiles
Alwyn W Turner
David Van Day
Phil Wainman
Johnny Wakelin
Jeff Wayne
Alan Williams
Pip Williams