Various Artists

Music Merchant Story

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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 relocated from Detroit to Los Angeles and founded their own Hot Wax and Invictus labels. In 1972, the trio launched a third label, the Buddah-distributed Music Merchant Records, and although none of its releases enjoyed commercial success, the short-lived company nevertheless generated its share of classic grooves, all boasting the HDH team's patented sonic dynamics. Music Merchant Story is an exemplary 22-track collection of the label's singles that includes both cult favorites (Eloise Laws' "Love Factory" and the Just Brothers' "Sliced Tomatoes," both Northern soul scene perennials) and forgotten obscurities (e.g. Raynel Wynglas' "Bar-B-Q Ribs"), and while it's fascinating to explore the Holland/Dozier/Holland team's late-period work, the set can't help but pose questions about what might have been -- for example, it's impossible to hear Brotherly Love's Jackson 5-esque "Mama's Little Baby (Loves Lovin')" without wondering how the actual Jackson 5 might have fared with HDH manning the boards.

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