In the 1970’s through the 1980’s there was no better songwriting team around than Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter. A few of their hit songs included “Ain’t No Woman Like The One I’ve Got,” “Rhinestone Cowboy,” “Don’t Pull Your Love,” “Baby Come Back,” “Nightshift” and, as it touched upon in the film, the unfortunate creation of Starship’s “We Built this City.” In the 70’s, Lambert himself put out an album of his own called “Bags and Things” that never really achieved any measure of success. Add to that the fact songwriting is a young mans game, Lambert soon found himself pushed out or music completely and quickly began a new career selling high-end real estate in Boca Raton, Florida. Little did he know that one of the songs on his solo album entitled “Of All the Things” would become pretty much the biggest song ever…in the Philippines. After years of cajoling, documentarian Jody Lambert finally helps convince his dad to tour the Philippines and decides to film his father Dennis as he finally gives in and takes a mini-tour of the land where he’s as big as Elvis.
I have a soft spot for the one hit wonders in the world and think they get treated unfairly so already, I loved the premise of this film. Yet Lambert never even had a hit that he sung in the U.S. so he’s a notch below one-hit-wonder. That just makes the film all the more intriguing as I defy you to not get any number of the great pop songs he wrote out of your head as they play throughout the film. Plus the whole idea that an album that was basically dead in America ended up taking flight in another country is pretty fascinating. What makes a song sink in one place and rise to fame somewhere else? It’s kind of like how David Hasselhoff has a huge music career in Germany but nowhere else. But then again not as the people of the Philippines aren’t wanting new music from Lambert, they just love his solo album, the hit songs he wrote and especially, “Of All the Things.” Apparently that song has been the wedding theme to hundreds of thousands of weddings and it’s also the anthem for Valentines Day which Lamberts tour coincides with.
While it may seem a conflict of interest to have a son film his father, I don’t feel the film suffered in the least. While on the surface “Of All the Things” is about the hits and misses on tour with a guy who hasn’t performed in over 25 years, there’s also a storyline about how much Lambert loves his family and his life as a real estate agent. He made the choice to get out of the music business to do something else and take care of his family and the only reason he seems to give in to this idea of a tour is to make his family happy as well as probably pull in a nice payday. Plus it would be easy to poke fun at a guy up there in age trying to make a small comeback as a musician but Jody Lambert treats his father and his fathers music with respect.
Lambert’s clearly a songwriting genius and he has a sweet, rich voice that comes right out with little or no practice or warm-ups. The trouble ensues when the old school Lambert starts trying to add a 24-track mixer with samples to his bag of onstage tricks and the tension mounts as he tries to get his hired band of Philippino studio musicians on the same page as him musically. The tour starts off in smaller venues all leading up to the grand finale, a nearly sold out show at the Araneta Coliseum, the very same place Muhammed Ali fought Joe Frazier in “The Thrilla in Manila.” Yet as with any tour, there are problems and it’s all terribly engrossing as we’re along for the ride with Dennis Lambert’s big comeback tour.