THE DETROIT SPINNERS-MIGHTY LOVE.

THE DETROIT SPINNERS-MIGHTY LOVE.

When The Detroit Spinners signed for Atlantic Records and hooked up with producer Thom Bell there was a huge turnaround in their fortunes. Their first two albums, 1967s The Original Spinners and 2nd Time Around in 1970, hadn’t been commercial a success. Only 2nd Time Around had charted, reaching number 199 in the US Billboard 200 and number forty-six in the US R&B Charts. However, once they signed for their new label Atlantic, and started working with Thom Bell, five consecutive gold albums followed, with the group having three consecutive US R&B number one albums. This was a remarkable turnaround in fortune for Billy Henderson, Bobby Smith, Philippe Wynne, Henry Fambrough and Pervis Jackson, who were The Detroit Spinners.

After the huge success of Spinners, The Detroit Spinners debut album for Atlantic and their first album produced by Thom Bell, the group set about recording what would be the follow-up album Mighty Love. Spinners was going to be a hard act to follow, have reached number one on the US R&B Charts, and number fourteen in the US Billboard 200. Having sold over 500,000 copies, the album was certified gold. Suddenly, with the help of Thom Bell, The Detroit Spinners were one of the biggest soul groups in America. What everyone was wondering, was could their next album match the success of Spinners?

What would become Mighty Love was recorded at the legendary Sigma Sound Studios, with Thom Bell producing the album. Eight songs were recorded, with the famous Philadelphia International house band M.F.S.B. backing The Detroit Spinners. This included one of the best rhythm sections in music B-H-Y, bassist Ronnie Baker, guitarists Norman Harris and drummer Earl Young. Together, this hugely talented trio played on numerous albums that defined The Philly Sound. This includes The Spinners’ Atlantic albums of the early to mid-seventies. With Linda Creed, Barbara Ingram, Carla Benson and Evette Benton singing backing vocals, eight songs were soon recorded. Of these eight songs, six of the songs were co-written by the prolific triumvirate of songwriters Charles Simmones, Joseph B Jefferson and Bruce Hawkes. Another of the songs, Love Don’t Love Nobody, was co-written by Charles Simmones and Joseph B Jefferson, while the Thom Bell and Linda Creed songwriting partnership co-wrote one of the singles released from the album, I’m Coming Home. With Mighty Love recorded, it was due for release in March 1974.

After being critically acclaimed, Mighty Love was released in March 1974, reaching number one in the US R&B Charts and number sixteen in the US Billboard 200. This meant that The Detroit Spinners received their second consecutive gold disc of their careers. Little did they know back then, that they receive five in total. Adding to the success of Mighty Love was three top ten US R&B singles. The first of these Mighty Love which reached number one in the US R&B Charts and number twenty in the US Billboard 100. It was followed by the Thom Bell and Linda Creed penned I’m Coming Home which reached number three in the US R&B Charts and number eighteen in the US Billboard 100. The last single released from Mighty Love was Love Don’t Love Nobody, reaching number four in the US R&B Charts and number fifteen in the US Billboard 100. All things considered, Mighty Love had been a massive commercial success, reaching number one on the US R&B Charts and spawning three hit singles, including a US R&B number one single. By now it seemed that The Detroit Spinners could do no wrong. This success lasted until 1976, and during this time The Detroit Spinners were one of the biggest and most successful groups in soul music, releasing one great album after another, including Mighty Love which I’ll now tell you about. 

Mighty Love opens with Since I Been Gone, one of six penned by Charles Simmones, Joseph B Jefferson and Bruce Hawkes. A combination of buzzing bass, piano, shimmering strings, rasping horns and punchy drums open the track, before giving way to the united vocals of The Detroit Spinners. After this, Bobby’s gentle, tender lead vocal enters, as he sings about his loneliness and how he misses his ex-girlfriend. Behind him the rest of group provide dramatic harmonies, accompanied by the rhythm section and rasping horns. Then strings sweep in, their lush sound adding to the sadness and emotion of Bobby’s lead vocal. With Thom Bell’s producing the track, his masterful arrangement manages to combine emotion, sadness and drama perfectly, resulting in a track full of heartache and regret.

The remarkable thing about Mighty Love is that three great singles were released from the album, and a track like Ain’t No Price On Happiness wasn’t one of them. That demonstrates the sheer quality of music on Mighty Love. When you hear the track you wonder why? As the track opens with the Baker, Harris and Young rhythm section combining with slow, blazing horns and the lushest of strings. It’s only then that Bobby’s beautiful vocal enters, tinged with sadness and regret. Meanwhile, the rest of the group and backing vocalists combine to contribute tender backing vocals. Swathes of strings enter, sweeping behind Bobby, while the rhythm section and horns combine. By now, the heartache and despair in Bobby’s voice is almost tangible, at the end of his relationship, as he sings that “there ain’t no price on happiness.”This beautiful, but sad and despondent vocal from Bobby is complimented by some stunning, thoughtful playing from M.F.S.B. and another emotive Thom Bell arrangement.

I’m Glad You Walked Into My Life is one of the slow songs on the album, with a beautiful, slightly dramatic introduction, where keyboards, rhythm section and lush strings combine with gently, rasping horns. They give way to a thoughtful vocal from Bobby, with the rest of the Spinners singing harmonies. There’s a mixture of joy and emotion in Bobby’s voice having finally met the woman of his dreams. Behind him, Thom Bell’s sympathetic arrangement adds to the emotion in Bobby’s vocal. Strings sweep slowly and emotively, while the rhythm section combine playing thoughtfully with short, sharp bursts of drama. As the song progresses, it just gets better and better. Bobby’s vocal grows in power and emotion, as does the arrangement, ultimately reaching an emotional and joyful crescendo.

Side one of Mighty Love closes with I’m Coming Home, co-written by Thom Bell and Linda Creed, who over the years, co-wrote so many brilliant songs together. When this track was released as the second single from the album, it reached number three in the US R&B Charts and number eighteen in the US R&B Charts. The track bursts into life, a punchy rhythm section, swirling strings and blazing horns combining with Philippe Wynne’s joyous vocal. His vocal is quicks, with him elated at returning home. Behind him, the rest of The Detroit Spinners and backing vocalists contribute equally joyful backing vocalists. Similarly, M.F.S.B. lock into this joyous sound, with strings swirling, horns braying and the rhythm section providing the song’s heartbeat. Overall, it’s an uplifting, joyous and hook laden track, which has an irresistibly catchy sound.

Side two of Mighty Love opens with He’ll Never Love You Like I Do, a mid-tempo track. It opens with piano and Norman Harris’ chiming guitar combining gently, before horns and Earl Young’s subtly drum enter. With a lovely subtle backdrop, Bobby gives a tender and heartfelt delivery of the lyrics, warning his ex-girlfriend that her new man will never love her like he does. With the other Detroit Spinners and female backing vocalists combining, this adds to the sense of sadness and loss, in Bobby’s voice. Rasping horns and drums add bursts of drama, as a heartbroken Bobby promises love and happiness, while Linda Creed and Barbara Ingram are among the backing vocalists, who gently accompany him. By the end of the track you find yourself rooting for a desperate and bereft Bobby, hoping that he’ll be given another chance by his ex-girlfriend. That’s the power of this track, and the emotion involved in both Bobby’s vocal and Thom Bell’s subtle, yet emotive arrangement.

Love Has Gone Away is a very different track, when it opens. A funk drenched and dramatic Baker, Harris and Young rhythm section combine punchy drums, buzzing bass and funky guitar, before keyboards, swirling strings and blazing horns enter, giving the track a classic M.F.S.B. sound and feel. They give way to Bobby’s searing, soaring vocal, while tight harmonies accompany him. Meanwhile, Earl’s drums drive the track along, his hi-hats, hissing, as he provides a funky and dramatic heartbeat. Horns blaze and rasp, as keyboards, chiming guitars and grand strings combine to provide a powerful, dramatic, sweeping backdrop for The Detroit Spinners. As if sensing this arrangement is something special, Bobby and the rest of the guys, up their game, producing a dynamic and energetic vocal, fitting for this drama drenched arrangement that combines a majestic combination of soul and funk.

After the welcome diversion into funky territory, things change with the gorgeous Love Don’t Love Nobody, a piano lead ballad, with one of the most thoughtful and emotional vocals on the album. The arrangement sees Bobby accompanied by the piano and rhythm section, who mostly play with subtly, but intersperse this subtly with brief bursts of drama. Mostly though, it’s just a lonely, Bobby accompanied by the rest of Detroit Spinners and backing vocalists, with the lush arrangement meandering along. Lush quivering, shivering strings join this slow, epic jam that lasts over seven minutes. When you listen to this gorgeous track, you realize just why it was so successful when released as the third single, reaching number four in the US R&B Charts and number fifteen in the US Billboard 200, and deservedly becoming a Quiet Storm classic in the process.

Mighty Love closes with the title track, Mighty Love, which was the first single released from the album, reaching number one in the US R&B Charts and number twenty in the US Billboard 100. The track opens with dramatic mixture of rhythm section, blazing horns and sweeping strings. As the arrangement becomes much more subtle, Bobby’s joyful vocal enters, with tight, sweet harmonies accompanies him. Behind him, M.F.S.B. are on top form, the dynamic rhythm section, swirling sweeping strings and rasping blazing horns combining perfectly with keyboards. On top of the arrangement sits Bobby’s powerful, soaring vocal, with the rest of the group harmonizing, and wave upon wave of the dramatic and dynamic arrangement unfolding. When this uplifting, catchy and hook laden track, ends you’re left thinking that The Detroit Spinners kept the best until last. After all, it’s best to end the album on a high.

On Mighty Love everything came together for The Detroit Spinners. It’s almost as if the stars were perfectly aligned. They had eight great songs to record, and were backed by one of the best bands of the time M.F.S.B. and were fortunate to have in Thom Bell, one of the most talented producers of all time. With that line-up, it’s no wonder that Mighty Love reached number one in the US R&B Charts and number sixteen in the US Billboard 200. Add to this three top ten US R&B singles, including the title track, Mighty Love, then 1973 had been a hugely successful year for The Detroit Spinners. Both Spinners, their first album for Atlantic and first album produced by Thom Bell and Mighty Love reached number one in the US R&B Charts and were certified gold. This successful period would continue until 1976, with 1974s New and Improved reaching number one in the US R&B Charts and number nine in the US Billboard, while Pick of the Litter reached number two in the US R&B Charts and number eight in the US Billboard 200. The final album during this successful period was Happiness Is Being With The Spinners, which reached number five in the US R&B Charts and number twenty in the US Billboard 200. Like Spinners and Mighty Love, these three albums were all certified gold. This was a remarkably successful period for The Detroit Spinners when not only did they produce some stunning music, but became one of the biggest and most commercially successful groups of this time. Although each of these five albums feature some outstanding music, Mighty Love is one of their most complete albums.  Each of the eight tracks are of the highest quality and feature The Detroit Spinners at their very best. For anyone who hasn’t heard their music, one way to do so, is by buying the five disc box set The Original Spinners, which features The Detroit Spinners five best albums, starting with Spinners and ending with Happiness Is Being With The Spinners. That’s the perfect introduction to one of the biggest and best soul groups, The Detroit Spinners. Standout Tracks: Since I Been Gone, I’m Glad You Walked Into My Life, He’ll Never Love You Like I Do and Mighty Love.

THE DETROIT SPINNERS-MIGHTY LOVE.

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2 Comments

  1. DeeJayRickyD

    I’m Coming Home was sung by Phillippe Wynne; I’m surprised that you did not mention his name through your entire review. He was the “Closer” on many of the Spinners’ greatest songs.

    • Hi. Thanks for pointing that out, I must changed that. The Spinners recorded so many great songs, and his voice is just the finishing touch. Thanks for pointing that out.
      Best Wishes,
      Derek Anderson.

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