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Holland Dozier Holland ‎– The Complete 45s Collection: Invictus/Hot Wax/Music Merchant 1969-1977

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The legacy of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland is filled with some of the most popular songs ever written:  “Stop! In the Name of Love”, “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)”, “Baby, I Need Your Loving”, “You Can’t Hurry Love”, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”, among them.  All of those songs, and so many other indelible hit records, were written under the aegis of Hitsville, USA, a.k.a. Berry Gordy’s Motown empire.  But by 1967, the relationship between the label chief and his star writers was starting to feel strained.  Within two years, the H-D-H team had struck out on their own, forming Invictus Records, distributed by Capitol, and Hot Wax Records, distributed by Buddah.  H-D-H’s new wrinkle on the Sound of Young America eventually encompassed the Music Merchant label as well, and gave Motown a run for its money with hits from The Chairmen of the Board, Freda Payne and The Honey Cone.

Demon Music Group’s Harmless Records is putting together the most comprehensive survey of the Invictus-Hot Wax-Music Merchant catalogue yet with Holland-Dozier-Holland: The Complete 45s Collection: Invictus/Hot Wax/Music Merchant 1969-1977. 

By the numbers, this 14-CD box set, celebrated the 45th anniversary (2014)  of H-D-H’s independence with a staggering array of newly remastered 45 RPM singles:

96 x Invictus 45s
44 x Hot Wax 45s
17 x Music Merchant 45s

for a total of 157 singles and 269 original recordings.

See the whole list here

The H-D-H family of labels launched with the June 1969 release of The Honey Cone’s “While You’re Out Looking for Sugar” on Hot Wax; The Glass House’s “Crumbs off the Table” arrived that fall, and both singles went to the R&B Top 10.  H-D-H assembled their own mini-Hitsville on Detroit’s Grand River Avenue with such names as Ronald Dunbar, Greg Perry and Angelo Bond.  McKinley Jackson led the de facto house band including drummer Zachary Slater and bassist Bob Babbitt, and Motown expats like arranger Paul Riser also joined the team.

In January 1970, Invictus scored its first smash hit with Ronald Dunbar and Edythe Wayne’s Pop Top 5 “Give Me Just a Little More Time” from the Chairmen of the Board.  Two months later, Freda Payne took “Band of Gold”, another Dunbar/Wayne copyright, to the same No. 3 spot.  Edythe Wayne, however, couldn’t enjoy the song’s good fortunes – as she didn’t exist.  Wayne was a pseudonym for Holland-Dozier-Holland!  The Invictus-Hot Wax labels soon churned out releases from Flaming Ember, 100 Proof Aged in Soul (with Four Top Levi Stubbs’ brother Joe), The 8th Day, Laura Lee, and George Clinton’s Parliament.  In 1972, H-D-H launched the Music Merchant label with a single from another Motown veteran artist, Brenda Holloway, and the three principals also made their return to singing.  Two initial singles (“Don’t Leave Me” and “Why Can’t We Be Lovers”) arrived under the name of Holland-Dozier, with Lamont on vocals.  “Don’t Leave Me Starvin’ for Love” and “Slipping Away” featured Brian’s lead.  Eddie was showcase on “Where Did We Go Wrong” recorded in both a solo version and with another signing, Eloise Laws.

Invictus/Hot Wax/Music Merchant remained an active concern for Holland-Dozier-Holland between 1969 and 1974, but by the end of this period, the principals had already diversified.  In 1973, Dozier released a solo record for ABC-Dunhill.  By 1975, all three men had reconciled with Motown, with Dozier spearheading an album by The Originals (California Sunset) and Brian taking on projects by Michael Jackson, The Jackson 5, The Dynamic Superiors and his old charges The Supremes.  Invictus continued issuing new music through 1977 at which time it quietly folded.

Harmless’ new set chronicles the heady period when H-D-H, true architects of The Motown Sound, challenged that storied label for R&B supremacy.  The set boasts a 64-page booklet with new liner notes by Dean Rudland plus numerous memorabilia images.  Much of the H-D-H album catalogue has previously been reissued on CD by Harmless’ sister label Edsel, but preliminary information online seems to indicate that further album collections may be released down the road for H-D-H’s artists.  

This is the most comprehensive re-issue project ever undertaken on this important part of Soul music history.

CDs 1, 3, 5 and 7 contain A sides and CDs 2, 4, 6 and 8 contain B sides from the Invictus record label.
CDs 9 and 11 contain A sides and CDs 10 and 12 contain B sides from the Hot Wax  record label.
CD 13 tracks 1 to 14 contain A sides and CD 14 tracks 1 to 13 contain B sides from the Music Merchant record label.
CD 13 tracks 17 to 24 and CD 14 tracks 14 to 23 contain Holland-Dozier-Holland acetates, test pressings and remixes.

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