Updated: November 12, 2023.
Rhino continues their Quadio series, reviving classic 70’s quad mixes on Blu-ray, and The Spinners' third studio album, "Spinners" is part of the second bundle. The shiny disc features 4.0 quadraphonic and 2.0 stereo mixes at a dazzling 192kHz / 24-bit resolution, however, in an unusual turn, a mastering issue has been discovered and is being corrected, all the details are noted further below.
The album SPINNERS served as the genesis of the legendary 'Philadelphia Sound,' introducing anthems like "Could it be I'm Falling in Love," "One of a Kind (Love Affair)," and "I'll Be There" to the world. This masterpiece album ascended to the 14th position on the Billboard 200, while also claiming a three-week residency on the Top R&B chart.
Emerging from their roots as a doo-wop ensemble in the 1950s, The Spinners, hailing from Detroit, abandoned the Motown scene at the onset of the 1970s. Despite their earlier success with the Stevie Wonder-assisted "It's a Shame," they often found themselves overshadowed by Motown's other vocal giants, such as The Temptations.
Under the stewardship of Phillipé Wynne, who took up joint lead vocal duties alongside Bobby Smith, replacing G.C. Cameron, the group embarked on a new journey with Atlantic Records. Here, producer Thom Bell sculpted a sound that blended opulence with a raw edge, perfectly complementing their harmonious prowess.
"Spinners" plays like a collection of their greatest hits, featuring shared vocals by Smith and Wynne. These classics are all resurrected here, transferred directly from the original half-inch analog four channel master tape, vibrant and untarnished by time. Fans will find that these hits shine as brilliantly today as they did four decades ago. However, while the quad mix is truly discrete with powerful use of the back channels and wide spreading of instruments to all corners, the initial run of the Blu-ray suffers from a lower volume from the front left channel. The effect of this technical issue causes the vocals and other instrumentation to move toward the front right channel, plus it also detracts from the overall balance of the quad mix. A general adjustment of around a 5db increase will normalize this issue until immersionists receive replacement copies. In short, Rhino reports that a Channel Driver issue during the mastered audio file output sequence caused this issue, and no recall will occur. Instead, those who ordered directly from Rhino will be receiving replacement copies in the middle of December that corrects this oversight.
With the adjustment made, I still found the mix to be a bit bass heavy, and drums are somewhat hot on a couple of the tracks. I generally felt that the mix was warm and offered a good top end. I remain undecided on the balance between the front and back channels, and reader’s may be interested to know that I have a matched set of front and rear full range speakers on the floor, which is how a quad setup would be best designed.
The album is interspersed with tender ballads like "I Could Never (Repay Your Love)," with The Spinners redefining the classic male vocal template. In an era when many groups were distancing themselves from their musical origins, The Spinners asserted their authority through the impassioned pleas of Wynne and Smith are joined by the harmonious voices of the group's other members: Pervis Jackson, Billy Henderson, and Henry Famborough, creating a rich R&B sound with a throwback to the doo-wop era. "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love," which later became a hit for David Grant and Jaki Graham, stands as the cornerstone. Sung by Smith, it exudes beauty, optimism, and a joyful spirit.
Best suited for fans of the group’s sound and collectors of quad mixes. The updated reissue is now set for December 15, 2023.
Released October 13, 2023.
Blu-ray Audio disc featuing 4.0 quad and 2.0 stereo DTS 192kHz / 24-bit mixes Also available for streaming and alternate masters can be found on CD and Vinyl.
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About the Author
Wesley is a lifelong music enthusiast. He started his career in the recording industry in New York City as an audio engineer, producer, and studio manager. Subsequently he toured across America as a guitarist with the short-lived band Land's Crossing. After many years in the technology sector and amassing a substantial vinyl and CD collection, he delved into immersive audio and created Hi-Res Edition to share with other listeners about the sound quality and discrete mixes available on many formats. He recently upgraded his system to 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos and continues to seek out and share about the best sounding releases.