Spencer Wiggins

Feed the Flame: The Fame and XL Recordings

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Spencer Wiggins is mostly known for his mid- to late-'60s recordings for the Goldwax label, but he did go on to some more recording for other companies at the end of the ‘60s and the beginning of the 1970s. This CD has the Kent label's typically thorough roundup of the loose ends that don't appear on the label's other reissues (excepting some later gospel recordings). The 22 tracks include singles he did for both Fame and Sounds of Memphis; a few stray Goldwax cuts, some of which have appeared on other CD compilations; and a full dozen previously unreleased songs. The very nature of a compilation such as this means it's not the best Wiggins anthology to start with. But even though about half of it is unreleased, the quality is good enough that no obvious reasons can be detected as to why much of his work from this period was consigned to the vault. At the same time, it's the sort of stuff that will largely appeal to specialists and collectors, particularly those with a yen for Southern soul, as it's not top of the line even by the standards of the subgenre. Wiggins sings the songs dependably well in an emotional, at times vibrato-laden deep soul style that owes something to Otis Redding, though he was hardly alone among artists from his region in that regard. Some of the later sides, like 1973's "I Can't Get Enough of You Baby," had a more contemporary funky edge. Obvious hit material was lacking, and it might be no coincidence that the most immediately striking tunes, "I'd Rather Go Blind" and "Cry to Me," are covers of soul classics.

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