While the career-defining performances within the grooves cannot be overlooked, Spinners remains equally notable for its historical importance. At the dawn of the 70s, Motown still held sway as the dominant soul style. Yet the Spinners' decision to move to Atlantic – prompted by a suggestion by Aretha Franklin – and refashion their approach with Bell signaled a sea change that ushered in a smoother, sweeter variety of R&B punctuated with sweeping strings, jazzy flourishes, brassy replies, and funk rhythms. Few, if any, vocal groups mesh these traits more convincingly, pleasingly, and naturally than the Spinners on this watershed effort.
Anchored by Top 5 smashes like "Could It Be I'm Falling In Love," Spinners signaled the beginning of a partnership with Bell that lasted seven years and elevated the band to stardom. Indeed, even in spite of the four hit singles, the record remains defined by an artistic consistency, watertight focus, and collective unity that make everything here deserving of close attention. Flush with catchy hooks and pop accents, each song is treated as a potential anthem. Laden with depth and richness, Bell's savvy, wide-open arrangements frame the Spinners' satiny singing with sensual class and refined delicacy.
Heaven-sent voices do the rest. Making his first appearance on record as a member, Philippe Wynne treats the carefully honed material as a breakout session for his dulcet tenor on tracks such as "One of a Kind (Love Affair)." Not to be outdone, the equally measured Bobbie Smith mesmerizes with his deft phrasing, reedy timbre, and sparkling clarity, never finer than on the million-selling "I'll Be Around." Solo or paired together, Wynne and Smith's glorious leads run the gamut from upbeat and optimistic to sad and forlorn, forming the backbone of a masterwork that addresses romance ("Just You and Me Baby"), regret ("How Could I Let You Get Away"), and social ills ("Ghetto Child") with consummate passion.