"Soul Boys of the Western World" is a nice stroll down Memory Lane for fans of Spandau Ballet, the sleek British soul-pop band that peaked in popularity in the early '80s.
Yet, the more-casual observer -- who perhaps only barely recalls hearing Spandau's name mentioned on an early MTV broadcast -- can also gain something from watching this documentary.
"Soul Boys of the Western World," which had its world premiere at the 2014 South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas, serves as a fascinating case study in group dynamics. It's specific to Spandau Ballet, of course. But change the individual names and it could be the story of countless other bands.
Director George Hencke's insightful film does a good job recounting Spandau Ballet's ascent, which brought the band from the London club scene to the top of the U.K. charts with the blue-eyed soul classic "True" in 1983. He does an even better job with its descent, as bickering eventually brought the band to its knees and, eventually, the courtroom.
Fortunately, that was not to be the end of Spandau Ballet. The group has reunited and even performed at South by Southwest.
The film closes with a performance clip of the band, which came from an earlier reunion date. The group -- especially vocalist Tony Hadley -- sounds quite strong in the segment. It's more than enough to make one long for a full North American Spandau Ballet tour.
Hopefully, "Soul Boys of the Western World" will be released to theaters -- if not, look for it on DVD. For more information about the film, visit www.spandauballet.com.
Read Jim Harrington's Concert Blog at http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts. Follow him at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic.