Black Music Month: Taking a Spin Through the Spinners Catalog

Tuesday, June 23, 2020
The Best of The Spinners Album Cover

It’s Black Music Month, as just as we’ve done in past years here at Rhino, we’re celebrating the occasion by sprinkling in a number of posts where we spotlight a black artist or an album by a black artist. Today we’re shining the spotlight on some of the classic singles – and, yes, a few album tracks, too – by one of the greatest Philly soul groups ever to emerge from the City of Brotherly Love.

The Spinners started their career in the ‘60s and... Oh, fine, we should probably mention that they didn’t originally hail from Philadelphia but, rather, from Detroit. They scored their first top-40 hit in 1961 with “That’s What Girls Are Made For,” released on the indie label Tri-Phi Records, owned by Harvey Fuqua, but in 1963 the label’s entire roster was bought by Fuqua’s brother-in-law, Berry Gordy. That’s right: when that happened, the Spinners were suddenly on Motown.

Being on a new label helped the Spinners a bit: they made their debut at the Apollo Theater and scored a top-40 hit with “I’ll Always Love You” in 1965, after which they hit #16 on the R&B Singles chart with their 1966 single “Truly Yours.” It would be another few years before the group made their way back to the charts with 1970’s #14 hit “It’s a Shame,”  and in ’71 they had another hit with “We’ll Have It Made,” but it was after that when Aretha Franklin suggested to the Spinners that they should wrap things up with Motown and make the move to her label, Atlantic Records.

They did just that, of course, and the decision paid off handsomely, thanks in no small part to the group teaming up with songwriter Thom Bell: between 1972 and 1980, the Spinners scored seven top-5 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including the #1 hit “Then Came You,” a collaboration with Dionne Warwick. At the same time, they had six singles top the R&B Singles chart: “I’ll Be Around,” “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love,” “One of a Kind (Love Affair),” “Mighty Love,” “Games People Play,” and “The Rubberband Man.”

We’ve put together a list of tunes from the Spinners’ tenure on Atlantic Records, which ran from 1972 through 1984, so put on your dancing shoes, press “play,” and fall in love with The Spinners all over again.