Friday 31 October 2014

Charting unsung heroes

Published 28/03/2014 | 14:30

20 feet from stardom (No Cert, IFI, 90 minutes) Director: Morgan Neville. Stars: Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Sting.

4 STARS

Morgan Neville's hugely enjoyable, Oscar-winning documentary celebrates the unsung heroes who helped make some of popular music's most celebrated songs and albums special. As Bruce Springsteen rather diplomatically puts it, the role of the backing singer is "a somewhat unheralded position", and 20 Feet from Stardom tries to right this wrong by highlighting the achievements of veteran performers like Darlene Love.

Love worked with everyone from Sam Cooke and the Beach Boys to Elvis Presley, but was badly treated by the industry and worked for a time as a house cleaner before her fortunes changed in the 1980s.

Neville's film is full of such anecdotes, and demonstrates the fine line between fame and obscurity.

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