(They Just Can't Stop It The) Games People Play

Album: Pick Of The Litter (1975)
Charted: 5
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Songfacts®:

  • The Spinners scored their fifth #1 R&B hit with this song. Here, the singer is bemoaning how people manipulate others to get what they want in matters of love, while observing that the honest, open approach never seems to work. The game-playing theory was originally made popular by psychologist Eric Berne in his best-selling book, also called Games People Play.
  • We get the girl's perspective when a female voice comes in with the lines:

    Know where to go
    It's hopeless so
    I guess I'll leave it alone


    It was assumed that this line was delivered by one of the backing singers the Spinners used - Carla Benson, Evette Benton, or Barbara Ingram - but According to Thom Bell, it's actually group member Henry Fambrough - Bell sped up the tape to change the pitch of Henry's voice.

    "Henry didn't care that he sounded like a woman," Bell explained. "We were making hit records!"
  • The first pressings of this song were issued as simply "Games People Play," but the title was changed to avoid confusion with the song of the same name by Joe South. The awkward title ensured that publishing royalties wouldn't be misappropriated to South's song.
  • Joseph Jefferson, Bruce Hawes and Charles Simmons wrote this song. They worked for Thom Bell, who was The Spinners producer. Other Spinners tracks this trio wrote were "One of a Kind (Love Affair)" and "Mighty Love."
  • All five Spinners get a turn on lead vocals here, including bass singer Pervis Jackson. Thom Bell explained in The Billboard Book of #1 R&B Hits: "Basses are not usually designed to do anything but hold the root. He's the bottom and they're not really known for being soloists. So I said I'm going to come up with something for that guy. And from the moment I gave him that part, his whole personality, his whole everything changed."

Comments: 5

  • Jonny Beck from Koreatown, Los AngelesLove singing Pervis' line (which I can barely get down to) and then singing the 'answer' lines...
    Really one of my all time favorite songs.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 23rd 1976, the Spinners performed "They Just Can't Stop It The (Games People Play)" on the NBC-TV program 'The Midnight Special', they were also the show's host...
    Almost one year earlier on August 3rd, 1975 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #82; and on October 19th, 1975 it peaked at #5 (for 2 weeks) and spent 18 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on October 12th, 1975 it reached #1 (for 1 week) on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    It peaked at #2 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    Between 1961 and 1983 the quintet had twenty-nine Top 100 records, six made the Top 10 with one reaching #1, "Then Came You" (a duet with Dionne Warwick) for 1 week on October 20th, 1974.
  • Bill from Pensacola, FlI just saw The Spinners appearance on an old Soul Train episode, and when they "sang" Games People Play, Ms. Barbara Ingram couldn't make it,
    so one of them just lip synched her part! And the camera focused on it each time. It was so funny looking.
  • T from Boondocks, ArPervis Jackson got the nickname, "12:45" based on his famous opening line of his solo in the song.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhFabulous, classic song, fabulous voices, every single one of them.....bass singer Pervis Jackson's deep deep voice makes the tune very memorable!!!!
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