PHILIPPE WYNNE: Soul From Sugar Hill (Label: Shout)

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PHILIPPE WYNNE: Soul From Sugar Hill

Philipe Wynne had one of THE great soul voices. It was his distinctive, warm baritone that helmed the Spinners most soulful cuts and it was with some justification that during his time with the group he was widely known as Philipe “Soul” Wynne. For reasons which have never been satisfactorily explained he left the band in 1977 to pursue a solo career, but, like Temptation David Ruffin before him, his solo achievements never matched the ensemble work. Be that as it may, his last solo album was recorded for the Sugar Hill label in 1983 and it’s sadly been out of print for too long. Now thanks to reissue specialist Shout Records we can all enjoy more of Wynne’s superb vocals on what, to many, will be fresh material. Fresh, it may be – but it all sounds very familiar, ‘cos it’s the sound of prime time Spinners. Without too much imagination stretching, you’d think that some of the stuff here was left over from the group’s hey day at Atlantic. The Bunny Sigler ballad, ‘You Made Me Love You, Why Did You Do It’ is a great example. It’s sweet, but not sickly, with a full chorus that could have been marshalled by Thom Bell. ‘Let Me Go Love’ is another quite beautiful Spinners sound-alike and, going all the way, there’s also a re-recording of one the Spinners’ best-ever tunes – ‘He’ll Never Love You Like I Do’. In fairness the backing lacks the lushness of the original but the vocal will knock you out. Elsewhere the beaters ‘Sexy Walk, Sexy Talk’ and ‘You Ain’t Going Anywhere But Gone’ suffer from too much exposure to those ’80s synths – but Phil rips the lyrics to bits (even on the very lightweight former track). All nine of the original album cuts are here, of course, along with the dubiously patriotic ‘America’ and ‘Whip It’; that one was down to hip-hop group The Treacherous Three, with Wynne offering incidental vocals… but even on that you’ll realize why he was dubbed “Soul”. Wynne sadly died in 1984 after collapsing on stage in Oakland, California. Even sadder was the fact that his funeral was attended by just 8 people… this album serves as a fine epitaph.
(BB) 4/5