The Spinners

Live! [Original]

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This double-LP concert set captures the Spinners at the Latin Casino nightclub in Camden, New Jersey. Several months after these recordings were made, Jackie Wilson collapsed on-stage at the venue from a life-altering and debilitating stroke in September of 1975. Interestingly, but most likely unrelated to the Spinners Live! (1975) is that the group donated $60,000 to aid in Wilson's long-term recovery. Although the quintet of Henry Fambrough (baritone vocal), Billy Henderson (tenor vocal), Pervis Jackson (bass vocal), Bobbie Smith (tenor vocal) and Philippe Wynne (tenor vocal) were seminal representatives of the 1970s Philly soul movement, the band actually got their start in the mid-'50s. Their stylistic diversity is evident right out of the gate with the somewhat schmaltzy modernization of the Gershwin standard "Fascinating Rhythm." The horn section bops and the harmonies soar, however the delivery seems more suited for a supper club audience at The Copa than a 1974-era R&B crowd. They get down to the nitty gritty, launching into a rousing reading of "I've Got to Make It on My Own," one of three tracks taken from the concurrent release New and Improved (1974). The extended instrumental ensemble keeps the backbeat smoking behind the spot-on singers. "Living a Little, Laughing a Little" follows with a Latin-flavored flourish unraveling a dapper slow jam that is well-received by a group of female attendees who let their presence be known before the onslaught of hits continues with the jaunty groove of "One of a Kind (Love Affair)." Linda Creed -- half of the Bell/Creed co-writing credit along with Philly soul innovator Thom Bell -- joins the Spinners for a propulsive "Then Came You," the second entry from New and Improved and another apparent audience favorite featuring Creed on a co-lead that Dionne Warwick sang on the original. This is followed by a heartfelt and emotive "Sadie," a powerful rendition of the crossover pop smash "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love" and the closer "Mighty Love." But those pale in contrast to the stone cold nine-plus-minute showstopper "Love Don't Love Nobody" and "How Could I Let You Get Away" -- with take-offs and put-ons of Al Green, Otis Redding and Sam Cooke -- tucked amid the flurry of otherwise sizable offerings.