Various Artists

Heaven Must Have Sent You: The Holland/Dozier/Holland Story

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Given Motown/Universal's penchant for repackaging, it would seem redundant to release this three-disc set, since about two-thirds of the songs are already available on dozens of other compilations. But given the superb quality of material and the importance the writing team of Holland-Dozier-Holland had to American soul music, Heaven Must Have Sent You: The Holland/Dozier/Holland Story is a fitting, if not quite essential release. Just a glance at the classics written by this talented triumvirate and sung by the cream of Motown's crop such as the Four Tops, the Supremes, Martha & the Vandellas, and Marvin Gaye (but interestingly, not by the Temptations), gives a good indication of the trio's amazing output. The majority of the initial 44 songs from this chronologically arranged 65-track box come from the label's 1963-1967 heyday. But even within that period, the compilers add a few obscurities from Dusty Springfield (a very Motown-sounding "When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes"),the Elgins, Chris Clark, and Eddie Holland himself, to sweeten the pot. But arguably the most interesting, if not the most popular material is found after the threesome first split with Motown in late 1967, to start their own Hot Wax and Invictus labels. Here the hits that defined Freda Payne ("Band of Gold") and the Chairmen of the Board ("Give Me Just a Little More Time") join with the collaborators' own work and Lamont Dozier's solo output, all from the early- to mid-'70s, for soul that was quite different from the Motown sound. Although the dreaded disco production weakened the approach later in the decade, especially on the Jackson 5's unnecessary remake of the Supremes' version of "Forever Came Today," and Shalamar's tepid but hit-medley "Uptown Festival," there are some real gems unearthed on the third disc. In particular, an African inspired "Going Back to My Roots," from Lamont Dozier's 1977 solo album, and his sumptuous, heartache-filled, jazzy ballad version of "My World Is Empty Without You." The Band's live "Don't Do It" and the Doobie Brothers "Little Darlin' (I Need You)" illustrate how roots rockers were influenced by and interpreted this material, but these don't really mesh with the flow of the collection. Regardless, this remains a terrific listen, and even if you already own much of it, the 26-page booklet, featuring a fascinating essay with quotes from the trio, and the non-Motown material, make it a worthy addition to any soul music lover's library.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 2:24
2 2:26
3 2:46
4 2:46
5 2:32
6 2:47
7 2:39
8 2:35
9 2:29 Spotify
10 2:30
11 2:55 Spotify
12 2:27
13 2:34 Spotify
14 2:44 Spotify
15 2:26 Spotify
16 2:33
17 2:35
18 2:41
19 3:00
20 2:51
21 2:51
22 2:57
23 2:44
24 2:43
25 2:55 Spotify
26 2:41

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 2:33 Spotify
2 2:35 Spotify
3 2:44 Spotify
4 2:36 Spotify
5 2:48 Spotify
6 2:54
7 2:23
8 2:53
9 3:00
10 2:31
11 2:55
12 2:47
13 2:32
14 2:37
15 2:48
16 2:49
17 3:03
18 2:51
19 2:41 Spotify
20 2:53 Spotify
21 3:32 Spotify
22 2:49 Spotify
23 4:45 Spotify

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 3:23 Spotify
2 4:04 Spotify
3 4:11 Spotify
4 4:53 Spotify
5 7:26 Spotify
6 4:21 Spotify
7 3:10 Spotify
8 4:13 Spotify
9 6:23 Spotify
10 3:08 Spotify
11 4:10
12 9:46 Spotify
13 3:59
14 3:26 Spotify
15 4:50 Spotify
16 3:55 Spotify
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