LAMONT DOZIER: ‘Working On You’ (Label: Expansion)

  • Home
  • Reviews
  • LAMONT DOZIER: ‘Working On You’ (Label: Expansion)
LAMONT DOZIER: 'Working On You'

After a creatively fertile but commercially disappointing stint at Warner Bros. in the late 1970s – which yielded the excellent 1977 album, ‘Peddlin’ Music On The Side,’ featuring the classic song ‘Back To My Roots’ – Lamont Dozier joined Columbia Records in 1981 hoping, no doubt, that new pastures and a fresh challenge could change his fortunes in terms of chart success. Certainly, Dozier – then 40 – had nothing to prove. The Detroit-born tunesmith had written himself into popular music’s history books as part of Motown’s prolific songwriting trio, Holland-Dozier-Holland, in the 1960s when he co-penned hit after hit for the likes of The Supremes, Marvin Gaye and The Four Tops. After the trio of tunesmiths quit Motown to form their own Invictus/Hot Wax labels in the late-’60s, Dozier went out on his own in the early ’70s and cut some brilliant material for ABC Records (including the superlative satirical swipe at Nixon’s government, ‘Fish Ain’t Bitin” and ‘Trying To Hold On To My Woman,’ the latter Dozier’s biggest solo US chart hit). But from 1976 onwards, it had been a fallow period hit-wise and Dozier hoped to reverse the trend with ‘Working On You,’ a 10-track set which turned out to be his solitary album for Columbia. The label released ‘Cool Out’ and ‘Too Little Too Long’ as singles in the States but they failed to make any impact with record buyers (they didn’t even register on the R&B charts). In truth, the album didn’t quite hit the heights of Dozier’s earlier recordings for ABC and Warner Bros. but as this reissue reveals, it’s certainly not a sub-standard piece of work. The killer cut is the marvellous mid-tempo song, ‘Starting Over,’ which is undoubtedly one of Dozier’s best post-Motown tunes. Other highlights include the breezy ‘You Made Me A Believer’ – the groove, chords and melody of which bear a slight resemblance to ‘Breaking Out All Over’ from a few years earlier – and the dreamy, sweetly soulful, title song featuring The Waters on backing vocals. Dozier even tries his hand at reggae, with the sax-infused ‘Chained (To Your Love),’ which adds a feel-good sunshine vibe to the proceedings. The album first came out on CD in Japan a few years ago but it’s now become an outrageously expensive collectors’ item that has been known to fetch £200 on eBay. Thanks to Expansion, though, this overlooked album is widely available again on CD at an affordable price – snap it up while you have the chance (
(CW) 4/5