Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Spinners

My soul-loving 14 year old daughter, Cassandra, found the above video clip on youtube a few weeks back. It's the R&B group The Spinners, at the height of its power, performing "Mighty Love" at what I am guessing is the 1975 Grammy Awards.

"Mighty Love" is one of group's best songs if not THE best. On vinyl, it begins as a song of remembrance as lead singer Bobby Smith beautifully and wistfully expresses pain of lost love. Then co-lead singer Philippe Wynne, who joined the legendary group just three years earlier, rides in on his siren-like tenor, testifying to the power of love--and solidifying his place as one of the most electrifying singers of his brief era.

Here's the group again, lip syncing "Could it be I'm Falling in Love" on Soul Train. Smith takes us through most of the song, then Wynne slips in at the 3:38 mark, ending the song with as brilliant a piece of ad-libbing as you'll ever hear on wax.

Wynne leading the group on their biggest hit, "Rubberband Man" on the Midnight Special TV show.

Wynne left the band in 1977 for a solo career that never quite got off the ground. He did make some great music briefly with Parliament-Funkadelic, most notably his vocal gymnastics on "Knee Deep"--best part of that song: When Wynne, almost surprised, sings the killer line, "Could this be me? Immersed in funk so deep?" The great voice was stilled when Wynne died of a heart attack in 1984.

Bobby Smith, now 73, still leads the group, although, in addition to Wynne, four other original and early members of the group have died.

A Soul Closet Mystery:
Remember the Spinners song, "Games People Play"? There is clearly--or so it seems--a woman singing some of the verses. But whenever the group appeared on TV back then, I remembered my pre-teen self waiting to see what the woman with the feathery voice looked like, only to have the camera cut to Spinner member Henry Fambrough---a dude!--singing the girly part. What the heck? I mean, dig:

So was it a chick or Fambrough? Session singer Barbara Ingram was credited as the female voice, but according to Wikipedia, the group's songwriter and producer, the legendary Thom Bell, said it is actually Fambrough with his voice sped up. Ingram died in 1994.

No comments: