Holland-Dozier-Holland

The Complete 45s Collection: Invictus, Hot Wax, Music Merchant 1969-1977

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As their contracts with Motown came to a close in 1967 and 1968, the songwriting and production trio of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland, Jr. decided to set up shop on their own. This didn't please Berry Gordy, Jr. He sued the trio for breach of contract and they, in turn, countersued, sparking a legal struggle that lasted well into the '70s, by which time Invictus, Hot Wax, and Music Merchant -- the three labels HDH started after leaving Motown -- were all beginning to wind down. It's difficult to separate the lawsuit from the histories of Invictus, Hot Wax, and Music Merchant because throughout this legal fight HDH were prevented from either writing or producing for another label -- a considerable roadblock considering the very reason the trio broke from Motown was to get greater creative control in hopes of it leading to large financial rewards. During the lawsuit, no songs or productions were billed to HDH; instead, "The Corporation" were the producers and a variety of staffers were credited with the songwriting, including one Edith Wayne, who was ubiquitous until the lawsuit was settled and then disappeared into the ether. All this subterfuge suggests how wild and loose things were behind the scenes of Invictus and Hot Wax (these were the two major imprints; only a handful of singles showed up on Music Merchant). Holland-Dozier-Holland designed these labels to tackle contemporary sounds such as funk, psychedelia, bubblegum, deep soul, and rock in a fast fashion Motown generally avoided. Invictus and Hot Wax lacked major stars -- of their initial roster, Chairmen of the Board and its lead singer General Johnson and Freda Payne would become soul stars, while Parliament would later find solid footing once they left the label -- which meant that The Corporation, aka Holland-Dozier-Holland, wound up being the auteurs of their indie imprints. That's why Demon's mammoth 14-disc 2014 box of all the A- and B-sides released by Invictus, Hot Wax, and Music Merchant is called Holland Dozier Holland -- The Complete 45s Collection: a handful of other writers and producers may be responsible for individual tracks here and there but HDH were the ones with vision. They're the ones who wanted to drape the joyous, passionate melodies of their Motown hits with fuzz guitars and candied strings; they wanted to vary the rhythms beyond the bounce of the Funk Brothers so the singles sometimes felt seductive, sometimes grimy and funky; they're the ones who wanted to write riskier lyrics, evidenced by Freda Payne's pair of hits, "Bring the Boys Home" and "Band of Gold"; they're the ones who wanted to embrace everything the dawn of the '70s had to offer. This 14-disc box -- which is dotted with rarities but whose main attraction is simply serving up all the singles the three imprints released -- shows the trio did fully embody their time, creating some of the best, most imaginative music of their era. Like any label designed to serve a certain time, Invictus and Hot Wax had a finite life: once smooth and psychedelic soul turned into disco, HDH stopped having hits or even trying, for that matter. Some of that decline can be heard here but this wonderful box celebrates that wild, weird, glorious time when perhaps the greatest soul songwriting team that ever lived decided to stretch themselves to the limit. Their time has passed but this music will never be anything less than thrilling.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
2:39
2
feat: New Play
3:37
3
feat: Freda Payne
2:31
4
2:41
5
feat: Freda Payne
2:54
6
2:40
7
feat: Parliament
3:57
8
2:59
9
2:51
10
feat: Freda Payne
3:18
11
3:08
12
2:45
13
3:00
14 2:26
15
feat: Freda Payne
2:42
16 3:34
17
feat: 8th Day
3:04
18 2:49
19
2:29
20 2:44
21
feat: Parliament
2:33
22
feat: Freda Payne
3:11
23
2:46
24
feat: Lucifer
2:52

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
2:48
2
feat: New Play
2:57
3
feat: Freda Payne
2:37
4
2:43
5
3:34
6
feat: Parliament
3:24
7
2:39
8
3:32
9
3:00
10 2:34
11 3:46
12
feat: Freda Payne
2:59
13
3:06
14
feat: 8th Day
2:51
15
3:03
16
3:20
17
feat: Freda Payne
2:45
18 2:28
19
feat: Lucifer
3:06

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
feat: Parliament
2:34
2 3:21
3
2:57
4
feat: 8th Day
2:53
5 3:30
6
feat: Freda Payne
2:55
7
3:25
8
feat: Billie Sans
3:04
9
3:14
10 4:17
11
3:25
12
2:54
13
feat: 8th Day
3:08
14
feat: Lucifer
3:04
15
feat: Freda Payne
3:33
16 3:15
17 3:32
18
3:09
19
3:15
20
feat: Melvin Davis
3:27
21
feat: Danny Woods
3:02
22
feat: 8th Day
3:06

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:38
2
feat: 8th Day
3:08
3 2:55
4
feat: Freda Payne
2:31
5
4:24
6
feat: Billie Sans
2:22
7
3:00
8
3:30
9
feat: 8th Day
3:11
10
feat: Lucifer
2:55
11
feat: Freda Payne
3:35
12 2:48
13 2:52
14
3:15
15
feat: Lucifer
4:37
16
2:53
17
feat: Melvin Davis
3:32
18
feat: Danny Woods
3:31
19
feat: 8th Day
2:20

Track Listing - Disc 5

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:39
2 3:52
3
feat: Ty Hunter
3:26
4 3:01
5
feat: Parliament
2:57
6
feat: 8th Day
3:23
7 3:46
8
2:44
9
feat: Freda Payne
3:46
10 2:45
11 3:23
12
feat: Danny Woods
2:54
13 3:25
14
3:23
15
3:41
16 3:25
17 2:53
18
feat: Freda Payne
3:21
19
3:28
20
feat: Freda Payne
5:09
21 3:40

Track Listing - Disc 6

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
feat: Ty Hunter
3:46
2 2:38
3
feat: 8th Day
4:09
4
2:33
5
feat: Freda Payne
2:42
6
3:44
7 3:15
8
feat: Danny Woods
2:55
9 2:20
10
3:44
11
4:07
12 2:43
13 3:05
14
feat: Freda Payne
3:07
15
4:20
16
feat: Freda Payne
2:38
17 3:38

Track Listing - Disc 7

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
feat: Melvin Davis
3:32
2
feat: Lee Charles
2:52
3
3:50
4
feat: Laura Lee
2:59
5 3:59
6
feat: Natural High
2:17
7
3:00
8 3:01
9
3:40
10 3:52
11
feat: Laura Lee
3:01
12
feat: The Hi-Lites
3:08
13
feat: Earl English
2:48
14
3:20
15
feat: Eloise Laws
3:41
16 3:31
17
3:35
18
feat: Eloise Laws
4:09
19
3:21

Track Listing - Disc 8

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
feat: Lee Charles
2:44
2
2:11
3 2:56
4
feat: Natural High
1:52
5
2:22
6 2:49
7
3:54
8 4:04
9
feat: Laura Lee
4:00
10
feat: The Hi-Lites
3:26
11
feat: Earl English
3:09
12
feat: Eloise Laws
3:07
13 2:53
14
4:16
15
feat: Eloise Laws
3:32
16
feat: Eloise Laws
4:52
17
3:19

Track Listing - Disc 9

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
feat: Honey Cone
2:46
2
2:56
3
feat: Honey Cone
3:15
4
2:52
5
3:40
6
feat: Honey Cone
3:10
7
3:33
8
2:49
9
feat: Honey Cone
2:54
10
4:12
11
feat: Laura Lee
3:11
12
2:20
13
2:25
14
3:05
15
feat: Honey Cone
2:48
16
2:54
17
3:58
18
2:44
19
feat: Laura Lee
3:15
20
feat: Honey Cone
2:53
21
2:50
22 2:59

Track Listing - Disc 11

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
feat: Honey Cone
3:31
2
feat: Laura Lee
3:05
3
3:09
4
feat: Honey Cone
3:05
5 2:48
6
feat: Laura Lee
2:33
7
3:13
8
feat: Laura Lee
3:18
9
feat: Honey Cone
3:43
10
3:50
11
feat: Laura Lee
2:55
12
feat: Honey Cone
3:31
13
feat: Laura Lee
3:13
14
3:50
15
feat: Honey Cone
3:07
16
feat: Honey Cone
3:25
17
feat: Lee Charles
2:51
18
feat: Laura Lee
3:28
19 3:02
20
feat: Honey Cone
3:26
21 3:23

Track Listing - Disc 12

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
feat: Honey Cone
3:26
2
feat: Laura Lee
5:39
3
2:54
4
feat: Laura Lee
3:35
5
feat: Honey Cone
2:46
6
3:14
7
feat: Laura Lee
3:41
8
feat: Honey Cone
3:03
9
feat: Laura Lee
3:18
10
3:24
11
feat: Honey Cone
6:22
12
feat: Honey Cone
3:04
13
feat: Lee Charles
3:55
14
feat: Laura Lee
3:01
15 3:11
16
feat: Honey Cone
3:08
17 4:12

Track Listing - Disc 13

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
2:42
2
2:20
3 2:35
4
2:46
5
feat: Warlock
2:45
6
feat: Sweet Rock
3:04
7 3:09
8
2:19
9 2:43
10
feat: Eloise Laws
3:01
11
3:02
12
feat: Eloise Laws
3:27
13
4:14
14
2:39
15
2:44
16
2:53
17
2:45
18
2:57
19
feat: Eloise Laws
3:19
20
3:35
21
feat: Eloise Laws
4:57
22
3:43
23
5:47
24
feat: Freda Payne
5:02

Track Listing - Disc 14

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
2:42
2
2:22
3
3:51
4
2:32
5
feat: Warlock
2:45
6
feat: Sweet Rock
2:57
7
3:29
8
3:31
9
feat: Eloise Laws
3:12
10
3:32
11
feat: Eloise Laws
3:08
12
3:26
13
3:08
14
3:05
15
feat: Honey Cone
3:08
16
2:53
17
feat: Honey Cone
2:48
18
feat: Eloise Laws
2:32
19
2:48
20
feat: Eloise Laws
2:55
21
2:47
22
4:21
23
4:46
blue highlight denotes track pick