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Going Back to my Roots - Lamont Dozier / Odyssey

After leaving Invictus/Hot Wax Records and the partnership of Holland-Dozier-Holland in 1973 (see post for December 1st, a week ago), Lamont Dozier re-embarked on his career as a solo singer, with a mite more success than he had first time around in the early sixties. After a top 20 US hit with the slow, smoochy "Trying To Hold On To My Woman" and the nearly as successful follow up "Fish Ain't Biting", nothing much was biting for Lamont as far as the hit parade was concerned.

"Going Back To My Roots", a single lifted from Dozier's 1977 album "Peddlin' Music on the Side", was ostensibly a song about going back to the place where he was born, but released just a year after Alex Haley's groundbreaking and bestselling novel "Roots" the song takes on larger themes of personal history and ancestry. "Roots" traces the story of an African American back to its ancestral source in Africa. Given that the record came out six months after the commencement of the smash hit tv series based on the book, one can sense Dozier's commercial instincts once again coming to the fore. But Lamont Dozier was always a songwriter who was comfortable hitching his personal beliefs to the commercial songwriting bandwagon.

It worked. In 1981, ten years before the final dismantling of apartheid in South Africa, New York group Odyssey reached number one in South Africa with their disco version of the song, which was also a hit just about everywhere else in the western world.


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