Box set treatment for runners-up to Temptations, Four Tops and O'Jays in soul giants league
Either you can see this three-CD package as a potted history of black American music from doo wop to electro-funk via Motown, Philly and disco?because that’s the ground The Spinners cover here?or simply as a showcase for their sublime recordings with Thom Bell, plus a bunch of filler. There’s no denying the jejune appeal of 1961’s “That’s What Girls Are Made Of”, nor the infectiousness of the much-sampled “It’s A Shame” from 1970, and even later team-ups with the juicy, fruity Mtume are not the dads-go-trendy embarrassments that they might have been.
But the crucial stuff remains The Spinners’ summit encounters with Burt Blackarach himself, the aforementioned Mr Bell who, after inventing symphonic angst for The Delfonics and The Stylistics, evolved a more mature style for these doyens of Detroit vocal harmony. From 1972’s “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love” to 1979’s “Are You Ready For Love” (that recent No 1 for Elton John), Bell used flugelhorns, oboes and French horns to enhance Philippe Wynne’s gentle tenor voice, providing a rich avant-lush backdrop for these soft paradigms of adult male heartache.