Getting It Back - The Story of Cymande

Does a band need to be famous to shape the musical-spiritual worlds of generations of musicians and music-lovers? Cymande, a funk group that emerged in 1970s London, tells a success story: To the beat of Cymande’s music, British documentary filmmaker Tim MacKenzie-Smith elegantly interlaces personal stories of the band members, live performances and archival footage and recounts how the “British Black super group that never was” finally gains the well-deserved recognition. What sets the band’s trajectory apart from other stories of late fame is that even though the name “Cymande” may sound foreign and unknown – the group’s music will feel instinctively pleasant and familiar to most. What is at stake here is not just fame, but the power of music and culture and how it reminds us, subtly but strongly, of our shared humanity: In post-war Great Britain, a time of race riots, in which white conservatives fantasized about a “mono-racial” British nation, the members of Cymande fused the musical styles of their different Caribbean countries of origin to create a unique and radically new sound. A sound, indeed, that, while racial prejudice blocked Cymande’s path to fame, resonated so deeply with music-lovers that the band’s songs lived on long after it split up. In MacKenzie’s documentary, a large cast of renowned musicians bears witness to the profound impact Cymande’s music has had not only on their own art but also on their lived experience and emotional worlds. Full of hope, “Getting It Back” invites us to celebrate how a band, once denied success due to racial division, finally gets the fame it deserves. Somewhat ironically, it is not least through citation and sampling that Cymande has achieved a universal and unifying presence in today’s world of music.

Tim MacKenzie-Smith

Tim MacKenzie-Smith is an award-winning British filmmaker known primarily for sport documentaries such as "Keane & Vieira: Best of Enemies" (2013), "The Mavericks" (2016), "Rooney: The Man Behind the Goals" (2015) and "The Trilogy: Fury v Wilder (2021). An enthusiastic Cymande fan, he has spent the last five years working on this film and is proud to bring their story to the world.