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Holland-Dozier-Holland Songbook

August 16th, 2022 Leave a comment Go to comments

The death on August 8 of Lamont Dozier calls for a retrospective of songs he wrote with Brian and Eddie Holland. Dozier is the first of that trio to leave us.

With the brothers Holland, Lamont Dozier formed a veritable hit-machine for Motown — more than that, they were pivotal in creating the Motown sound of the 1960s.

For Martha And The Vandellas, they wrote and produced hits such as Heat Wave (their first hit in 1963), Nowhere To Run, Come And Get These Memories, and Jimmy Mack.

For the Four Tops, they created Reach Out I’ll Be There, Baby I Need Your Loving, It’s the Same Old Song, Standing In The Shadows of Love, I’ll Turn To Stone, Bernadette, 7 Rooms Of Gloom, and You Keep Running Away.

For Marvin Gaye they wrote How Sweet It Is and Can I Get A Witness; for The Miracles it was Mickey’s Monkey, for Jr. Walker & The All Stars (I’m A) Roadrunner, for The Isley Brothers This Old Heart Of Mine, for The Elgins Heaven Must Have Sent You, and for R. Dean Taylor they wrote There’s A Ghost In My House.

And they made The Supremes. Look at this list: Baby Love, Where Did Our Love Go, You Keep Me Hanging On, Stop In The Name Of Love, Reflections, I Hear A Symphony, Come See About Me, The Happening, Forever Came Today, Love Is Here And Now You’re Gone, and more.

Lamont Dozier, left, with the Holland brothers.

After falling out with Berry Gordy, Holland-Dozier-Holland left Motown in 1968 and founded their own label, Invictus. There their charges included the Freda Payne, Chairmen Of The Board, 100 Proof Aged In Soul, Flaming Embers, Glass House, and Honey Cone, producing and co-writing hits — for contractual reasons as Edith Wayne — such as Band Of Gold, Give Me Just A Little More Time, Everything’s Tuesday, You’ve Got Me Dangling On A String,  Sunday Morning People, Too Many Cooks (Spoil The Soup), or Westbound No. 9.

On that label Dozier also released his biggest solo hit, Why Can’t We Be Lovers, a US #9. In 1973 he split from the Holland brothers, with lawsuits following. Dozier said his legal issues with the Hollands, and with Berry Gordy before that, were not personal, just business.

Of the three, Dozier went on to have the greater success, but divided they never reached such heights as they did together in that decade from 1963-72.

With an eye to my CD-R length rule, this collection covers only the Motown phase. If you ask nicely, I might put together a post-Motown mix of Dozier compositions, with and without the Hollands.

The covers here are quite fascinating, none more so than Dozier’s 2004 interpretation of Baby Love. Here the man who co-wrote the song for three teenage girls wrestled with his composition 40 years later, as a man in his early 60s. He reworked the song to great effect.

Motown let different acts on their roster record the same songs, to see which version would provide the hits. That way, we have The Supremes try their hand at the Four Tops’ I Can’t Help Myself, and The Isley Brothers doing The Supremes’ I Hear A Symphony. The Four Tops’ version of Reflections came later, on 1970’s remarkable Still Waters Run Deep album.

Barry White, meanwhile, took The Four Tops’ Standing In The Shadows Of Love, and gave it a thorough reworking. On the bonus track, Margie Joseph does something similar to Stop! In The Name Of Love.

The most unusual interpretation — other than maybe the great cover of Come See About Me by the Afghan Whigs — might be that by Matt Monro, who took The Happening into the realms of jazz vocals. Which raises the question: Why did Frank Sinatra never sing Holland-Dozier-Holland songs?

Companion mixes to this collection may be Covered With Soul: Motown Edition Vol. 1 and Covered With Soul: Motown Edition Vol. 2. I might also commend to you The Originals: Motown Edition, but that features only one Holland-Dozier-Holland track, which shows how they almost always got it right the first time.

As mentioned, CD-R length, plus home-produced covers. The above text is included in an illustrated PDF. PW in comments.

1. The Jam – (Love is Like A) Heat Wave (1979)
2. Soft Cell – Where Did Our Love Go (1981)
3. The Afghan Whigs – Come See About Me (1992)
4. Fleetwood Mac – (I’m A) Road Runner (1973)
5. Wild Cherry – Nowhere To Run (1976)
6. Z. Z. Hill – Can I Get A Witness (1972)
7. O.C. Smith – Baby I Need Your Loving (1974)
8. Wilson Pickett – You Keep Me Hangin’ On (1969)
9. Tami Lynn – Love Is Here And Now You’re Gone (1972)
10. Barry White – Standing In the Shadows Of Love (1973)
11. Lamont Dozier – Baby Love (2004)
12. Michael McDonald – Reach Out, I’ll Be There (2004)
13. Nicolette Larson – Back In My Arms, Again (1979)
14. James Taylor – How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) (1975)
15. Matt Monro – The Happening (1967)
16. José Feliciano – My World Is Empty Without You (1968)
17. Laura Nyro & Labelle – Jimmy Mack (1971)
18. The Isley Brothers – I Hear A Symphony (1966)
19. Barbara Randolph – I Turn To Stone (1968)
20. Four Tops – Reflections (1970)
21. The Supremes – I Can’t Help Myself (1966)
Bonus Track:
Margie Joseph – Stop! In The Name Of Love (1971)

GET IT! or HERE!

Previous Songbooks:
ABBA
Ashford & Simpson
Barry Gibb Vol. 1
Barry Gibb Vol. 2
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Brian Wilson
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Carole Bayer Sager
Carole King Vol. 1
Carole King Vol. 2
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter Vol. 1
Cole Porter Vol. 2
Elton John & Bernie Taupin
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Jimmy Webb Vol. 3
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Paul McCartney Vol. 1
Rod Temperton
Steely Dan

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  1. amdwhah
    August 16th, 2022 at 10:14 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. August 16th, 2022 at 13:39 | #2

    Great collection! And I would love to hear a part II with later, non-Motown hits, if that’s a possibility. Thanks!

    There’s a law firm here in town that I keep hoping will hire a partner named Holland…
    https://ernienotbert.blogspot.com/2005/11/motowns-attorneys.html

  3. J. Loslo
    August 17th, 2022 at 22:58 | #3

    I was going to try to throw a list like this together, and now I find you’ve done the work for me. Thanks!

  4. Wolfgang Elste
    August 31st, 2022 at 16:27 | #4

    Thanks a lot. A Lou Reed or a Ray Davies Songbook might also be very interesting. Thanks for all your work. You knao so much about music.

    Wolfgang

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