After the song-writing partnership of Holland-Dozier-Holland (Edward-Lamont-Brian) left Motown in the late Sixties, they set up the INVICTUS and HOT WAX labels in the States featuring hot new soul acts like Chairman Of The Board, Freda Payne, Parliament, The Honey Cone, Ruth Copeland, Laura Lee etc.
Part of a slew of UK releases covering all those acts and both of those labels (see list below), Edsel ESCD 2068 is a superbly presented anthology of that other H-D-H creation - THE 8th DAY (fronted by the fantastically expressive vocals of Melvin Davis). This UK September 2009 remastered 2CD import gathers up both of their rare early Seventies albums, non-album single sides and other related tracks.
It breaks down as follows...
Disc 1 (48:26 minutes)
Tracks 1 to 9 is their debut US album "The 8th Day", April 1971 on Invictus ST 7306
Tracks 10 is "She's Not Just Another Woman", April 1971 USA 7" single mix on Invictus IS 9087 (it's B-side is the album track "I Can't Fool Myself" - Track 7)
Track 11 is "Eeny-Meeny-Miny-Mo (Instrumental)" - it turns up re-titled as "Get Your House In Order" which was issued in 1974 as the instrumental B-side to "Sittin' On A Time Bomb (Waitin' For The Hurt To Come)" by LEE CHARLES on Invictus ZS7 1260 (both tracks were non-album)
Tracks 12 and 13 are "If I Could See The Light In The Window" and "If I Could See The Light In The Window (Instrumental)", the non-album A & B of their 3rd US 7" single released December 1971 on Invictus IS 9107
Disc 2 (50:36 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 8 is their 2nd US album "I Gotta Get Home (I Can't Let My Baby Get Lonely)", April 1972 on Invictus ST 9809
Track 9 is "You Made Me Over", a 1973 USA 7" solo single by MELVIN DAVIS on Invictus ZS7 1259
Tracks 10 and 11 are "I'm Worried (Single Edit)" and "Just As Long (Single Edit)", non-album shortened versions of tracks from "The 8th Day" LP issued in 1972 as a MELVIN DAVIS solo single on Invictus IS 9115
Track 12 is "It's Instrumental To Be Free", a non-album B-side to "You've Got To Crawl (Before You Walk)" issued September 1971 on US 7" single Invictus IS 9098
Track 13 is "Free Your Mind" - it's a remix of "It's Instrumental To Be Free" (Track 12) and it appeared as the B-side of the 1971 UK 7" single "Love Machine" by THE POLITICIANS on Hot Wax HWX 114
The 16-page booklet has affectionate and informative liner notes by noted British soul lover and expert TONY ROUNCE while the remastered sound by ALCHEMY is warm, clear (surprisingly free of hiss) and gorgeous to the ear.
Their debut album opens with a lethal one-two sucker punch - "She Not Just Another Woman" and "You Gotta Crawl (Before You Walk)" - 20 seconds into either and you're hooked. It's easy to see why both reached number 3 on the US R'n'B charts in 1971. This is truly fabulous 70ts soul with one foot still in the Sixties vibe; it's The Temptations - it's Stevie - it's Jackie Wilson on Brunswick with a little RCA Sam Cooke thrown in. It sounds like a reinvigorated Motown hit-making machine with a point to prove - the arrangements, the tight band, the wonderful brass fills that make your feet tap - all topped by the killer vocals of Northern Soul favourite MELVIN DAVIS (who toured as recently as Summer 2009 to rapturous applause by soul lovers hungry for the real deal). Then just as you're about to pigeonhole The 8th Day as a H-D-H singles-machine, you get the stunning seven and a half minutes of "Just As Long" - as lovely a soul ballad as you're ever likely to hear - that starts out almost as an instrumental and then builds - so sweet.
Niggles - the notes for Disc 2 have IS 9098 as 9090 and IS 9115 as 9117 - both miscredited in the booklet - and collectors will know that there's a 7" single edit of "You Gotta Crawl" which lops off 15 seconds from the album version that could have been put on here, but it's a minor exclusion. Besides - prior to the availability of the Net - and as someone who's worked in second-hand records shops for nearly 20 years - I can count on one hand the number of times I've actually seen copies of these rare US LPs and singles. What a treat to have them all finally presented to us - and in such a cool way too.
Great stuff Edsel - love it, love it, love it - recommended big time.
PS: other titles in this series are:
1. CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD - Give me Just A Little More Time Plus... (featuring bonus albums by GENERAL JOHNSON and HARRISON KENNEDY) (Edsel EDSD 2053, 2CDs)
2. CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD - Bittersweet + Skin I'm In + Bonus Album by DANNY WOODS Aries (Edsel EDSD 2055, 2CDs)
3. RUTH COPELAND - Self Portrait + I Am What I Am albums Plus... (Edsel EDSD 2067, 2CDs)
4. HOLLAND-DOZIER-HOLLAND - Love & Beauty - The Complete Invictus Masters (Edsel EDSD 2056, 2CDs)
5. PARLIAMENT - Osmium Plus... (Edsel EDSS 1031, 1CD)
6. FREDA PAYNE - Band Of Gold + Contact + The Best Of + Reaching Out (Edsel EDSD 2054, 2CDs)
PPS: for those who want to go deeper into the Invictus and Hot Wax labels, Sequel Records of the UK released a huge number of related CDs in 1999 featuring artists not covered in this 2009 reissue series - some of those names are 100 Proof Aged In Soul, Flaming Ember, The Politicians, The Glass House, Barrino Brothers, Eloise Laws and several cool Various Artist compilations like "Invictus Chartbusters"