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 Chairmen Of The Board, “Give Me Just A Little More Time”

Chairmen of the Board

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I spend a lot of time traveling in my car between my current home in Rhode Island and my former home state of New Jersey. Last summer, I was delighted when SiriusXM added a channel called Carolina Shag which played the best of Carolina Beach Music. Unfortunately, after the summer SiriusXM removed the station from the radio airwaves and although you can still hear it online it’s just not the same as being able to listen in the car as you’re headed down the highway.

If you know anything about Beach Music you know that the Chairmen of the Board are the reigning kings of the genre. The group was led by General Johnson who was no stranger to musical success. Johnson had chart hits in the early 1960s with a group from New Orleans called the Showmen. Those hits included “It Will Stand” and “39-21-46” which itself is a Beach Music standard.

The idea for the Chairmen of the Board came from the songwriting and production team of Holland-Dozier-Holland which had left Motown Records in a contract dispute in 1967 and founded their own Invictus/Hot Wax label group. It was their concept to team Johnson with Eddie Custis, Danny Woods, and Harrison Kennedy. At first, the lead vocals were divided more or less evenly among the group but it wasn’t long before Johnson’s unique vocal style came to the fore.

Chairmen of the Board

“Give Me Just a Little More Time” was released in December 1969 and it rocketed up the chart to the #3 spot. By May of the following year, the record was a million-seller. Although “Give Me Just a Little More Time” was written by Holland-Dozier-Holland along with Ronald Dunbar, the ongoing lawsuit with Motown necessitated the use of the pseudonym Edythe Wayne in the songwriting credits. One thing that hadn’t changed for Holland-Dozier-Holland was their use of the Funk Brothers to supply the backing track just as they had done on all of those Motown hits.

While “Give Me Just a Little More Time” was the biggest hit for the Chairmen of the Board, it was not their only success. The group also scored with “(You’ve Got Me) Dangling on a String,” “Everything’s Tuesday” (the B-side of that single was the original version of “Patches” which was later a hit for Clarence Carter), and “Pay to the Piper.”

There were several lineup changes and solo albums by various members but Johnson kept the act alive until 1976 when he signed a deal with Arista Records as a solo artist. Two years later Johnson and Woods reformed the group adding Ken Knox to the lineup. They founded their own label, Surfside Records, and began their career as Beach Music kings. The label exists to this day and so do the Chairmen of the Board although Johnson passed away in 2010 and Woods passed away earlier this year. Knox now tours with Thomas Hunter and Brandon Stevens.

The North Carolina Music Hall of Fame inducted the Chairmen of the Board in 1999.

Soul Serenade: 100 PROOF Aged in Soul, “Somebody’s Been Sleeping”

100 PROOF Aged in SoulHolland-Dozier-Holland was a massively successful songwriting and production team at Motown Records. Their hits for the company are too numerous to mention but include such classics as “Heatwave” by Martha & the Vandellas, “Can I Get a Witness” by Marvin Gaye, the Miracles’ “Mickey’s Monkey,” the Four Tops “Baby I Need Your Loving,” and the Supremes “Stop! In the Name of Love.” But as it’s so often the case in the music (and other) business that the kind of success they had, and the piles of money that it brings in, lead to a dispute with management. And so, Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Brian Holland went to war with Berry Gordy, Jr. and their relationship with Motown was the first casualty of that war.

The team was hardly done, however. After leaving Motown in early 1968, they formed their own label and called it Hot Wax. The legal fallout from their Motown departure was so restrictive that they couldn’t use their own names on the songs they wrote, instead employing the nom de plume Edythe Wayne for many of them. The Motown artists they worked with didn’t, for the most part, follow them to Hot Wax, so they had to find people to record.

One of the first things that Holland-Dozier-Holland did at Hot Wax was to put together a vocal group that they called 100 PROOF Aged in Soul. The group was led by Joe Stubbs who, in addition to being the brother of Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops, had been a member of Motown groups like the Contours and the Originals, and before that, the Falcons. Sonny Monroe had been the lead singer of the Falcons and he also made the transition to 100 PROOF. Other members included Eddie Holiday and Steve Mancha.

100 PROOF Aged in Soul - Somebody's Been Sleeping

In all, 100 PROOF recorded six singles and two albums for Hot Wax between 1969-1972. It is the second of these singles, “Somebody’s Been Sleeping,” that they are remembered for. The song was written by General Johnson, who sang lead for the Chairmen of the Board, along with Greg Perry and Angelo Bond. Perry produced the record. The song was a tale of infidelity heavily influenced by the fairytale “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”

Fairytales sometimes do come true and that was the case for 100 PROOF. “Somebody’s Been Sleeping” rose up the charts until it reached the Top 10 on both the pop and R&B charts in 1969. The record sold over one million copies and was awarded a Gold Record. The album that included the single, Somebody’s Been Sleeping in My Bed, made it to #31 on the R&B chart. Several other 100 PROOF singles were Top 40 R&B hits notably the “Somebody’s Been Sleeping” follow-up which made the Top 20.

There was not enough success to sustain the group however and 100 PROOF Aged in Soul broke up in 1973. All of the original members are now deceased.

Soul Serenade: Lamont Dozier, “Fish Ain’t Bitin’”

Lamont Dozier - "Fish Ain't Bitin'"There is no question that Lamont Dozier is best known as part of the Motown production/songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland. Along with Brian and Eddie Holland, Dozier was responsible for writing 14 #1 hits. Very few songwriters can lay claim that that kind of success. Dozier’s career as a performer is somewhat less celebrated, but it certainly had its moments.

Dozier actually started as a performer in Detroit appearing with groups like the Romeos, the Voice Masters, and under the name La Mont Anthony. The groups recorded for labels like Fox, Anna, Frisco, and Checkmate, without much success. In 1962, Dozier finally released a single under his own name, but like the releases that came before it, “Dearest One” (Mel-o-dy Records) didn’t chart … (more)