Holland-Dozier-Holland were the powerhouse songwriting team at Motown. Dozens and dozens of the finest soul and pop songs you'll ever hear. Reach Out I'll Be There, Where Did Our Love Go, This Old Heart Of Mine, You Can't Hurry Love, and one I've had on repeat play recently, Baby I Need Your Loving.
By 1967 they felt they weren't getting a chunky enough cut of the Motown financial pie. Failing to get redress, they left the label. Motown pointed out that they were under contract until the early 70s and couldn't write anywhere else.
Holland-Dozier-Holland started their own labels, Invictus and Hot Wax. They were just producing, you understand. Not writing, no, because that wouldn't be legal. Instead, song after wonderful song was being written by a mysterious team called Ronald Dunbar and Edith Wayne.
You know that gradual yet total way that Elton John went from supposedly straight and married to out and proud? Well over the years denial has morphed into complete acceptance that Dunbar-Wayne is Holland-Dozier-Holland.
Oddly, their performers overlapped with Motown a fair bit. Their first signing, 100 Proof Aged in Soul, featured Joe Stubbs, ex-Contour and brother of the mighty Levi.
Soon they got an established Detroit band, the Flaming Ember. They'd released half a dozen singles on the great soul label Ric-Tic but when Motown bought up the label the band got dropped, and Motown's former employees stepped forward to catch them.
This single's got that fabulous sharp twangy distorted guitar like on Behind A Painted Smile (the thing Edwyn Collins appropriated for A Girl Like You), it's got a dose of that late 60s/early 70s soul thing for gritty social description and a sticky catchy chorus, all belted out by a great gutsy voice.
I've done it again; misheard a white record for a black one. And, again, I'm not alone. Flaming Ember bassist Jim Bugnel says
Eddie Holland held off releasing our Westbound No. 9 Album in L.A. because there were two black stations in L.A. that would not play songs by white artists, so he waited until Westbound No. 9 hit No.1 on those stations and then he released the album in Los Angeles and booked us on Bandstand.
There's a lot more of this post-Motown Holland-Dozier-Holland that's worth checking out. I'm presuming you know already Freda Payne's belter Band Of Gold (but maybe didn't know it was Holland-Dozier-Holland).
Chairmen of The Board did some wonderful singles (check out Give Me Just A Little More Time, Everything's Tuesday) and then they, like so many of their contemporaries, got the funk (go get their version of Sly Stone's Life & Death). Now it was time to step into the funk-light, and no less a funkadeity than Parliament released their first album on Invictus.
This MP3, though, is from a very specific point in soul history as the gloss of the 60s has peeled away and yet the dirt of funk is yet to be revealed.
[MP3 deleted to make way for new ones, sorry!. See 'Deleted Tracks' in the sidebar if you want this MP3 emailed to you]