THE SPINNERS: Keep On Keepin’ On (Soul Music/Second Disc)

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Fans of iconic soul harmony group, THE SPINNERS have been well served in the past 12 months. In May a lineup that consisted Jessie Peck, Marvin Taylor, Ronnie Moss, CJ Jefferson and last surviving original member Henry Fambrough released their ‘Full Circle’ album. Sadly Fambrough had died in February and didn’t actually see the release of what is probably the group’s final LP. Prior to that, in March, the group released an EP, ‘Leap Year Extra’ . The music was actually recorded in 1991 and then the lineup was almost  “classic” – Bobby Smith, Henry Fambrough, Billy Henderson, Pervis Jackson and John Edwards. Yes, the music wasn’t actually “new”, but fans were delighted that it was made available.

Same fans were delighted at the September ’23 Cherry Red/Soul Music boxed collection on the Spinners, which  was a 7CD, 92-track set that collected together all the recordings the Spinners and Thom Bell collaborated on during the group’s tenure at Atlantic. If you like, the music here represented the high watermark of the group’s career, 1972-1979. Of course, the Spinners career didn’t end in ’79. Indeed they stayed with Atlantic till 1984 recoding six more LPs and they enjoyed many more hits.

Now to satisfy demand, Cherry Red/Soul Music have just released this splendid companion to the first box set. ‘Keep On Keepin’ On’  delivers all the Spinners’ work for Atlantic between 1979 and 1984. Fans will know that for reasons never fully explained, Thom Bell ended his relationship with the group in 1979 – he had lots of other projects on the go and maybe the group themselves wanted to investigate new directions. The first “new direction” was disco  and working , first with Michael Zager as producer, the veteran fivesome began  paying their homage to the glitter ball and their first post Bell Atlantic LPs were stuffed with throwaway dancers; things like ‘Let’s Boogie, Lets Dance’ and ‘One, One, Two, Two Boogie Avenue’ speak for themselves!

At Atlantic, the Spinners went on to work with other producers, people  like James Mtume and Reggie Lucas, Freddie Perren, and Leon Sylvers III and though their collaborative efforts included plenty of disco dancers, the albums also turned up some fine soul  ballads – things like ‘Heavy On the Sunshine’, ‘Pipedream’, ‘Be My Love and ‘All Your Love (complete with a Manhattans style intro monologue).

The collection naturally includes the group’s hits from this period – the most significant being their version of ‘Working My Way Back To You’. Interest is maintained by things like a Spinners’ cover of ‘Didn’t I Blow Your Mind’ (were they missing Bell?), a lovely take on ‘Funny How Time Slips Away’, and a clever disco-fied look at the Carpenters’ ballad ‘Yesterday Once More’.

So, yes, maybe this era in the Spinners odyssey wasn’t as soulfully productive as their first forays with Thom Bell but they  could still deliver. However, if you pine for their “golden age” this collection’s seventh “bonus” CD goes back to 1975. It’s the group’s live album so once again you can enjoy things like ‘One Of A Kind’, ‘Sadie’, ‘Love Don’t Love Nobody’ and ‘Then Came You (with Linda Creed taking the Dionne Warwick part). A section of the show was devoted to comedy impressions of people like Tom Jones, the Mills Brothers the Marvelettes, Elvis, Louis Armstrong and The Supremes! The Spinners, of course, were a veteran  cabaret act and always included comedy in their shows!  Like we said plenty of interest!

(BB) 4/5

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