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Give Me Just A Little More Time - the Chairmen of the Board

After 8 years of writing and producing the most successful stream of hit records that's ever been, before or since, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland (see last ten posts) fell out with Motown Records owner and director Berry Gordy, inevitably, over their share of the accruing royalties. They left Motown in 1968.

They started their own recording business, the Invictus / Hot Wax labels, modelled in part on Motown, based in Detroit and hiring a studio band of ex Funk Brothers. Because Tamla Motown's music publishing company Jobete still owned their names for share of copyright income which was still under dispute, the songs the team wrote after their departure from the label were credited to Edythe Wayne, a friend of the Holland family, along with Ronald Dunbar, who, confusingly, was a songwriter for the Invictus / Hot Wax stable and did indeed contribute to the songs along with the trio. For soul aficionados however, the tag "Wayne/Dunbar" means only one thing: Holland / Dozier / Holland.

They were successful enough for the first few years immediately after leaving Motown, leading with two groups modelled on their most successful Motown vehicles: for the Supremes read Honey Cone and for the Four Tops read the Chairmen of the Board. The similarities between Chairmen lead singer General Johnson and Levi Stubbs are unmistakable, particularly on this, their first release and biggest hit; the phrasing, the agonised tone are pure Stubbs, the backing vocals pure Tops.

I've never worked out whether all the great soul music labels of the sixties were unsuccessful in the seventies because they just became unfashionable in the face of competition from the smoother Philadelphia soul and disco, or whether they failed because they tried to emulate and incorporate these styles into their own music and failed. Certainly early Invictus/Hot Wax releases by the likes of the Chairmen of the Board, Honey Cone, Freda Payne, Laura Lee and the Flaming Ember were successful, but the hit rate dropped off rapidly, and the team never again were able to replicate the heady days of their Motown years.

In 1973 Lamont Dozier left the Holland Dozier Holland Productions and Invictus/ Hot Wax to pursue "solo projects". Curiously, in 1975 the Holland Brothers were enticed back into a short term contract with Motown, ongoing litigation with the Coroporation notwithstanding, to try to reignite the waning fortunes of the Supremes, resulting in a series of uninspiring disco flops.

Despite the almost impenetrable maze of lawsuits and counter lawsuits that dominate the Holland Dozier Holland landscape from their departure from Motown onwards, Dozier and Gordy and the Holland brothers never seemed to let it get in the way of their friendship with one another. As Lamont Dozier famously said, "Business is business, but love is love".


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