Various Artists

Free Soul: The Classics of Hot Wax and Invictus

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After masterminding Motown classics from artists including the Supremes, the Four Tops, and Martha & the Vandellas, the production team of brothers Brian and Eddie Holland and Lamont Dozier left the venerable soul factory in 1969 and founded their own Hot Wax and Invictus labels. Best remembered for crossover classics like the Chairmen of the Board's "Give Me Just a Little More Time" and Freda Payne's still-stunning "Band of Gold," Hot Wax and Invictus continued the commercial success of the Holland-Dozier-Holland trio, and unlike many independent soul labels of the 1970s, its output has been heavily anthologized and its most memorable moments have remained readily available for successive generations of music fans to rediscover. So while there are any number of solid anthologies already on the market, Free Soul: The Classic [sic] of Hot Wax and Invictus is simply the best -- like its predecessors in the Free Soul series, it's a smart and seamless compilation that goes far beyond the tried and true to reclaim lost classics that either slipped through the cracks or just never got the chance to shine in this kind of context. This 26-track collection achieves a perfect balance between the labels' biggest hits and forgotten gems, including not just the aforementioned Chairmen and Payne singles but also stunners from Eloise Laws ("Ain't It Good Feeling Good"), Glass House ("Don't Let It Rain on Me"), and Lamont Dozier himself ("Why Can't We Be Lovers") -- for casual soul fans, it's all the Hot Wax/Invictus they'll likely ever need.