Review: The Spinners Get the Lavish Compilation of Singles They Deserve

The Spinners
The Complete Atlantic Singles-The Thom Bell Productions 1972-1979
(Real Gone)
4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Videos by American Songwriter

The title is a mouthful that barely fits on the CD’s spine. But it accurately describes the contents of this double disc which collects all 42 A and B sides soul group The Spinners released in a remarkably prolific eight-year run. While there were songs that appeared before and after this time span, it’s the popularity of these selections that landed The Spinners, after three previous nominations, as 2023 inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Like their peers, The Temptations, the vocal quintet was formed in Detroit. However, the act’s approach, sculpted by Thom Bell, was different. It hewed towards the slick, heavily orchestrated Philly sound, rather than the more rhythmic style Motown (who initially signed the outfit, but didn’t do anything with them) favored. A move to Atlantic in 1972 paired them with Bell, a combination that immediately clicked with the sumptuous soul slice “I’ll Be Around,” their first and arguably finest hit, which landed at No. 3 on the pop charts. That started a run resulting in charting tunes like “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love,” “One of a Kind (Love Affair),” “Mighty Love,” and their No. 1 hit with Dionne Warwick, “Then Came You.”

It helped that the guys, named after the Cadillac’s spinning hubcaps, had a legendary lead singer in Philippe Wynne whose honeyed voice was featured on the majority of their most memorable songs. He was so integral to their appeal that he exited the group after they would not yield to his request to rename them Philippe Wynne and the Spinners. Still, it was the overall craftsmanship of these tunes, helmed and sometimes penned by Bell, with their ornate strings, lightly funky/later disco tempos, and sumptuous instrumentation that jumped out of the radio.

Unfortunately, only one original member, baritone Henry Fambrough, remains alive. But as of early 2023, he retired and no longer tours with the current lineup.

This impressive package does the Spinners’ history justice. The songs—all in their stereo radio edits—have been remastered, a 28-page book is bursting with an extensive band bio, detailed notes about every song, rare photos, plus a previously unpublished interview with Thom Bell by Spinner’s historian, Joe Marchese. Each disc pushes the CD time limit with 78 minutes of music, making this not only great value but a significant addition to the history of ’70s soul, The Spinners’ catalog, and the band’s legacy.         

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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