Soul Serenade: The 8th Day, “She’s Not Just Another Woman”

The 8th DayAfter nine years and well over 400 columns, I’ve decided to change Soul Serenade from a weekly to an occasional column. Obviously, there are more than enough classic soul records to fuel a column like this for a lifetime but the truth is that while the column’s title mentions a specific song what I’ve really been doing is telling the stories of the artists behind the songs. And while many artists had multiple hits, how many times can you tell the same story? Are there artists who I’ve never covered? Of course. The 8th Day is one such group and I’ll certainly find more. But the fact is they’re harder to come by on a weekly basis. I hope you’ll continue to join me on this journey albeit on a bit more infrequent basis.

In 1967, the songwriting and production team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland left Motown in an acrimonious dispute with Motown owner Berry Gordy, Jr. The trio formed their own family of record labels that included the Hotwax, Music Merchant, and Invictus imprints. The roster of these labels was mostly made up of groups that were assembled for the occasion. They were either supergroups or lineups that were pieced together for a specific record. Often the members of the groups didn’t even know each other or hadn’t worked together before being called on to record for one of the labels.

The story of the 8th Day begins with another group that was recording for Holland-Dozier-Holland, 100 Proof (Aged in Soul). 100 Proof itself had been assembled by Holland-Dozier-Holland and the lineup included Steve Mancha, Eddie Holiday, and Joe Stubbs (brother of Levi Stubbs). The group had scored an R&B hit with “Too Many Cooks Spoil the Soup” but then scored really big with a crossover smash called “Somebody’s Been Sleeping In My Bed” which reached #8 on the pop chart and sold a million copies of the Hotwax release. The label decided it would be a good idea to release a 100 Proof album to capitalize on the success of the single.

The 8th Day

“She’s Not Just Another Woman” was a cut on the album and anyone with ears could tell that it was a hit. The song was written by Holland-Dozier-Holland but because of their ongoing dispute with Gordy, it was credited to C. Wilson and Ronald Dunbar. DJs started playing the track off the album. The problem was that “Somebody’s Been Sleeping” was still rolling up the charts and the label didn’t want anything, such as a new single by the same group, to get in the way. That’s where the 8th Day came in. It was simply a matter of changing the group’s name on the label of the single and releasing it on Invictus instead of Hotwax. That is 100 Proof’s Steve Mancha singing lead on “She Not Just Another Woman.” Sure enough, it was a hit, reaching #11 on the pop chart in 1971.

There was one little problem: there was no 8th Day. When the second 8th Day single, “You Got to Crawl (Before You Walk)” began to find some chart success, that problem had to be resolved, and quickly. Holland-Dozier-Holland did what they had done so well before and simply assembled a group for the occasion. The lineup included Melvin Davis, Tony Newsome, Lyman Woodard, Larry Hutchison, Ron Bykowski, Michael Anthony, Bruce Nazarian, Jerry Paul, Lynn Harter, Carol Stallings, and Anita Sherman. Now that there was an actual band, 8th Day recorded two more singles for Invictus but while “Eeny-Meeny-Miny-Mo (Three’s a Crowd)” and “If I Could See the Light” both reached the R&B Top 30, it wasn’t enough to keep the band together.

Holland-Dozier-Holland are often credited for their brilliant songwriting and production but it seems that they were also pretty adept at assembling talent and providing songs for their put-together groups to take up the charts.

Soul Serenade: The Falcons, “I Found A Love”

Soul Serenade - The FalconsThe Falcons were a vocal group whose membership at one time or another included such luminaries as Eddie Floyd, Wilson Pickett, Sir Mack Rice, and Joe Stubbs. They formed in Detroit when Floyd and Bob Manardo, who worked together in a jewelry store, decided to put together a group. Manardo brought in his friend Tom Shetler, and Floyd enlisted Arnett Robinson. Eventually bass singer Willie Schofield was added to the lineup.

The year was 1955, and the Falcons were one of the first integrated groups. They played a lot of clubs around Detroit, but would also venture off to the east coast on occasion. In 1956 Mercury Records was holding auditions. Thinking that the auditions were in Chicago, the Falcons headed there only to learn on their arrival that the auditions were being conducted in New York … (more)

Soul Serenade: Motown, The Sound Of Young America

Soul Serenade: Motown, the Sound of Young AmericEvery year in December many websites, including Popdose, publish holiday gift-giving guides. I’ve even written a few myself, recommending good music, books, and film for the people on your Christmas list. Record companies and publishers like to release their latest packages in the last few months of the year to take advantage of this kind of publicity.

Personally, I’m not much of an early Christmas shopper. But this year a book has been released that would be the perfect gift for anyone who reads this column, as well as like-minded loved ones and friends. I know what you’re thinking — why is this guy talking about Christmas when it was just Labor Day? Believe me, I feel your pain, but I had to make an exception this one time … (more)

Soul Serenade: Johnny Bristol, “Hang On In There Baby”

Johnny Bristol - Hang On In There BabyIn 1974 Johnny Bristol set the charts alight with his biggest hit, “Hang On In There Baby,” but he traveled a long road to get to that point. Bristol was born in Morgantown, North Carolina in 1939. By his own admission, his show business career began purely by chance.

In the 1950’s Bristol joined the Air Force, and he was stationed at Fort Custer near Battle Creek, Michigan. There he met a fellow airman by the name of Jackey Beavers. The two men had a common interest in singing, so they decided to form a duo which they called Johnny and Jackey. They played doo-wop shows in the Detroit area, and one night Gwen Gordy, sister of Berry Gordy, was in the audience. She was impressed enough to sign the duo to a management contract … (more)

Soul Serenade: The Velvelettes, “Needle In A Haystack”

Soul Serenade - The VelvelettesLast week’s Soul Serenade column was #260 in this series. That’s right, I’ve been writing the column for five years now and what an education it’s been. I was going to make a big deal of the anniversary but somehow I lost count. I’ve never been much of a fan of the belated birthday thing so I’ll just say thank you to all of those readers who have taken the time to read my ramblings over the years.

Over the last few years there have occasionally been subjects that I found so interesting that I continued my study of them for a second week. That’s the case this week. If you’ve been playing along you know that last week I celebrated the great Motown producer Norman Whitfield by featuring one of his greatest productions, “Smiling Faces Sometimes” by the Undisputed Truth. This week I want to look at a very different Whitfield effort … (more)

Soul Serenade: The Velvelettes, “Needle In A Haystack”