Lamont Dozier – 1977 – Peddlin’ Music On The Side
For his second Warner Bros. LP, Motown veteran Lamont Dozier turns the production reigns over to Stewart Levine (The Crusaders, Minnie Riperton’s Adventures in Paradise, Hugh Masekela). Pianist Joe Sample & bassist Wilton Felder of The Crusaders are on hand to make stellar contributions, giving Dozier his most jazz flavored album.
As usual with a Lamont Dozier album, you have the top musicians, singers, arrangers, and engineering staff involved. The propulsive album opener, “Sight for Sore Eyes“, opens with a striking string and horn arrangement. For the chugging, low key “What Am I Gonna Do ’bout You (Girl)” Dozier slyly caresses the lyric in a manner that suggests that he thinks that “his bad girl is good.” “Break the Ice” bops along on thumping bass and soft conga. ” The Afro-centric disco hit “Going Back to My Roots” was co-arranged by Hugh Masekela and has a message that most can relate to: “zipping up my boots/ going back to my roots/ to the place of my birth/ back down to earth/ ain’t talkin’ ’bout no roots in the land/ talkin’ ’bout the roots in the man.” The 12″ version of “Going Back to My Roots” is a collectible and the song was a 1981 disco hit for RCA Records group Odyssey (“Native New Yorker”).
The heart-tugging, dramatically arranged “Family” paints a picture of the family under attack. The warm-toned ballad “Peddlin‘ Music on the Side” lists the travails of trying to make it in the music business. This album stands as one of Lamont Dozier’s finest works.
A1 Sight for Sore Eyes 5:05
A2 What Am I Gonna Do ‘Bout You (Girl) (The Coke Song) 6:24
A3 Break the Ice 4:50
A4 Tear Down the Walls 4:02
B1 Going Back to My Roots 9:45
B2 Family 4:41
B3 Peddlin’ Music on the Side 4:51
This is one of my favorite LPs of all time by the genius songwriter for the Supremes, Four Tops and other great Motown acts. Dozier (of songwriting trio Holland-Dozier-Holland) went from songwriter to singer when he and the Holland Brothers left Motown and formed Invictus Records. Dozier later went solo on ABC records and enjoyed a moderately successful R & B career with such soul classics as “Trying to Hold On to My Woman” and “Let Me Start Tonight“. Dozier was not really a great singer but he was a classic song stylist who infused every one of his songs with strong, passionate vocals, excellent musicianship and consummate production values and this one is no exception.
Every song is a classic. “Sight for Sore Eyes” is both a smooth and hard-driving intro cut with a wonderful instrumental ending allowing the musicians to stretch out. “What Am I Gonna Do About You (Girl)” is a warning about cocaine disguised as a love song with a strong piano solo ending (Genius). “Break the Ice” is my personal favorite with a strong thumping bass break that grooves along from from 0-70 mph. (I dare you to keep your seat by the end of this song). “Tear Down the Walls” is kind of preachy and simple, but was typical of the songs of that era and the production values and harmonic background vocals carry the song.
“Back To My Roots” is a 10 minute tribute to Mother Africa that goes in so many differnet directions (jazz, house music, disco, African drums, choir, chanting) that it should not work, but somehow it all does. A Masterpiece.
“Family” is a plaintive but soulful prayer to GOD to keep the family together in the midst of its everyday trials. And lastly “Peddling Music on the Side” is a tribute to all of the journeymen and journeywomen singer-songwriters playing in juke joints and small clubs, struggling to break into the Top 100.