Shout! Factory // 2001 // 76 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // July 3rd, 2008
Tell me what you want! What you really really want!
Raw Spice is a documentary that traces the origins of the Spice Girls from an ad in a trade paper to their first early performances. It is an unofficial release not endorsed by the band, but the footage includes audition tapes and vocal coaching provided by their estranged first managers. The band was formed in 1994 as a pop vocal quintet brought together by a father and son producing team, Chris and Bob Herbert. They placed a want ad in an entertainment publication and ended up auditioning hundreds of possible wannabes. The lineup of girls changed a few times, but eventually settled down to the five we know as the Spice Girls. They were first called Touch, and lived together in a house with all of them collecting unemployment and not under any contract. This lack of formal agreement led to trouble, and the girls ran away to Simon Fuller to manage them after they created enough interest at a showcase for record executives. You don't hear any signature hits, but instead get to see unreleased material that was scrapped promptly by the time of their first CD. What Raw Spice focuses on is the time period before Fuller and their debut 1996 single "Wannabe." Geri Haliwell, Mel B, Mel C, Emma Bunton, and Victoria Adams all knew what they wanted to be, and they were destined to be huge stars. This is just an unauthorized look at how they got there.
This disc from Shout! Factory is comprised of home movies, video taped bits from auditions, and interviews with the former management team. Probably the best stuff for hardcore Spice followers are the parts where they perform their early material in studios and rehearsal halls. The image is fullscreen and a bit dodgy in quality and presentation as you'd expect from home movies from 15 years ago. It all looks and sounds a bit aged and muffled. The interview footage of the managers looks far better. The disc claims to have "bonus material," but all of the unseen film is incorporated with the main feature just appearing unedited at the end. There is about ten minutes of extra bits that you see partially in the main program, but here you see it with no trims. This is a "no frills" documentary of a band without any input from the members save for archive footage. It lives up to the "raw" title technically.
For Spice Girls fans, Raw Spice is an intriguing piece of memorabilia, because it is a chance to see the group as a bunch of clueless 19-year-olds. You see them flounder and goof off, and then suddenly become a viable musical group. It gives you an idea of what happens when someone tries to manufacture a pop sensation. They weren't overnight sensations, and put everything on hold for a year of poverty to get a shot at stardom. It's a fun title, but it requires a bit of knowledge of the Spice Girls and a desire to see a bunch of home movies about them. It's odd to see Victoria Beckham as a poor starving artist, or Emma Bunton living up to her nickname of "Baby Spice." The biggest flaw with Raw Spice is there is no input from the women who are in the group. Instead we get bitter ex-managers, members that never made the band, and handheld video footage of girls struggling to make it. The group never gets to put their spin on the events that led up to their career. Raw Spice ends up being "no spice," but plenty of home movies and ex-managers. Fans will love it, but I doubt the average casual viewer would be enticed.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 76 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* IMDb: Spice World
* Official Spice Girls Site