Dave Hamilton

Dave Hamilton's Detroit Dancers, Vol. 2

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Dave Hamilton's Detroit Dancers, Vol. 2 Review

by Richie Unterberger

Dave Hamilton was a producer, session musician, and songwriter on the Detroit soul scene starting in the 1960s. You can't really tell that from the liner notes, which basically say nothing about Hamilton's role in this music other than that the CD was compiled from his collection of tapes. It can be presumed, though, that Hamilton was involved in all of these records in some capacity, and he does have songwriter and production credits on some of the tracks. Most of them date from the mid- to late '60s, although some were done as late as the early '80s; some were unreleased demo-type tracks, and several came out on the Topper and TCB labels, indicating that Hamilton might have been involved with those companies. So, the music? It's acceptable, and not exceptional, period Detroit soul. As was the case with several small Detroit-area soul labels of the time, it often sounds like a minor-league Motown (indeed, Hamilton played on some Motown sessions himself). Motown is a good model, but nonetheless, adhering to a role model does not, in fact almost always does not, mean the resultant product stands up to the prototype, and that's the case here. Sometimes the micro-model is obvious; Tobi Lark's "Challenge My Love" sounds a lot like a Mary Wells song, "Ain't That Groovy" (an instrumental by the Dave Hamilton Band) like a Marvin Gaye backing track, Dottie and Millie like an amalgam of the Marvelettes and early Supremes -- you get the picture. It's not bad, but there's the nagging feeling that the musicians involved were just below the standard good enough to get involved with Motown itself. As is the case with several Kent/Ace compilations, the decision to sprinkle in a few disco- and urban contemporary-influenced cuts from a decade or later than the end of the 1960s disrupts the groove as surely as a hoseful of cold water in the face.

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