THE SPINNERS; While The City Sleeps (Kent)

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Prior to their huge success at Atlantic, the Spinners were second stringers at Motown. They’d joined the Gordy empire via their connection with Harvey Fuqua but sporadic sessions, limited releases and low key promotion left them very much in the shadows. That despite some excellent output – notably the magnificent ‘Sweet Thing’ (covered in the UK, of course by George Fame).

Then right at the end of the 60s it almost all changed. A personnel change… GC Cameron in for Chico Edwards and a Stevie Wonder song, ‘It’s A Shame’ saw the Spinners scale the charts. The business heads at Motown naturally demanded an album to capitalise on the success of ‘Shame’ and so in 1970 the soul world welcomed ‘2nd Time Around’ (that’s right, it was their second Motown LP). Long out of print, the album has just won reissue via Ace/Kent under the title ‘While The City Sleeps’ (more of that later).

Like most 60s and early 70s soul albums, ‘2nd Time Around’ was a cobbled together affair… a collection of old singles and the odd new recording to take the set up to the obligatory 12 tracks. The new ones that were commissioned for the album were covers of the Stairsteps’ ‘O o h Child’ and the Dells’ ‘I Can Sing A Rainbow/Love Is Blue’ alongside a new reading of ‘My Whole World Ended’. The remaining 9 cuts were mainly Motown chestnuts like ‘Bad Bad Weather’ and ‘Together We Can Make Such Sweet Music’. ‘It’s A Shame’ remains the album highlight – a strong song, beautifully produced and performed. Of note too is a take on the Bobby Scott-penned ‘Pay Them No Mind’ and a cover of the Moonglows’ doo-wop hit ‘In My Diary’. On both, the Spinners do what they do best… harmonise sweetly and expertly. The ending on ‘Diary’ is a thing of harmonic beauty… a tribute to the group and producer Harvey Fuqua, who, of course, was an original Moonglow.

As with most Ace/Kent reissues, this album comes with plenty of bonuses…. here 13 “extras” – of which ten have never been issued anywhere before. They include a remake of the group’s very first record ‘That’s What Girls Are Made For’ which sadly comes nowhere near the doo-wop purity of the original and a new mix of the falsetto-led ‘While The City Sleeps’. It seems that when Ace/Kent first contacted the Spinners back in 2012 with a view to reissuing their material, group member Bobby Smith asked could this particular track be included. In 2012 the Ace/Kent Spinners’ first Motown collection ‘Truly Yours’ just didn’t have space for it to be included… so here it is now and as a mark of respect for Bobby (who passed in 2013), the song has been given album title status.

(BB) 4/5