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Monday, March 14, 2011

The Spinners @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino

March 11, 2011

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While their name may not be as well known as other vocal groups like The Temptations or The Four Tops, the music of The Spinners should be instantly familiar to just about anyone who has spun a radio dial in the last 50 years. Songs like "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love" and "I'll Be Around," beyond being chart successes for Atlantic Records and continuing radio staples, were indicative of a larger shift going on within the sound of soul music at the dawn of the 1970s. Contrast the syrupy teenage doo-wop of their 1961 debut "That's What Girls Are Made For" with any of their '70s releases and the signs of growth are unmistakable. And while much of the credit for that new sound was due to Philly trailblazers like Gamble & Huff and Thom Bell, it took an uncommon level of versatility and talent for The Spinners to remain relevant for as long as they did.

Typical of many acts on the nostalgia circuit, the current Spinners lineup features just two of the original members, Robert "Bobby" Smith and Henry Fambrough. But if the crowd at Potawatomi Bingo Casino's Northern Lights Theater had any qualms about authenticity, they certainly weren't letting on. Backed by a rock-solid band (including Smith's son on guitar), The Spinners, old and new alike, worked through classic after classic like veteran showmen, and the audience responded with vocal enthusiasm.


In our current frenzied pop landscape, it is easy to forget just how effective something as simple and old fashioned as matching suits and choreographed dance moves can really be. Add in some scripted banter and a little Las Vegas-style razzle-dazzle, and you've got a show that even a cynic would find impossible to resist. Of course, The Spinners have the songs to back it all up, and when they capped off the 90-minute set with a strobe-lit rendition of their funky 1976 smash hit "The Rubberband Man," the resulting standing ovation came not from a sense of convention or obligation, but from tangible excitement.
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