After nine years and well over 400 columns, I’ve decided to change Soul Serenade from a weekly to an occasional column. Obviously, there are more than enough classic soul records to fuel a column like this for a lifetime but the truth is that while the column’s title mentions a specific song what I’ve really been doing is telling the stories of the artists behind the songs. And while many artists had multiple hits, how many times can you tell the same story? Are there artists who I’ve never covered? Of course. The 8th Day is one such group and I’ll certainly find more. But the fact is they’re harder to come by on a weekly basis. I hope you’ll continue to join me on this journey albeit on a bit more infrequent basis.
In 1967, the songwriting and production team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland left Motown in an acrimonious dispute with Motown owner Berry Gordy, Jr. The trio formed their own family of record labels that included the Hotwax, Music Merchant, and Invictus imprints. The roster of these labels was mostly made up of groups that were assembled for the occasion. They were either supergroups or lineups that were pieced together for a specific record. Often the members of the groups didn’t even know each other or hadn’t worked together before being called on to record for one of the labels.
The story of the 8th Day begins with another group that was recording for Holland-Dozier-Holland, 100 Proof (Aged in Soul). 100 Proof itself had been assembled by Holland-Dozier-Holland and the lineup included Steve Mancha, Eddie Holiday, and Joe Stubbs (brother of Levi Stubbs). The group had scored an R&B hit with “Too Many Cooks Spoil the Soup” but then scored really big with a crossover smash called “Somebody’s Been Sleeping In My Bed” which reached #8 on the pop chart and sold a million copies of the Hotwax release. The label decided it would be a good idea to release a 100 Proof album to capitalize on the success of the single.
“She’s Not Just Another Woman” was a cut on the album and anyone with ears could tell that it was a hit. The song was written by Holland-Dozier-Holland but because of their ongoing dispute with Gordy, it was credited to C. Wilson and Ronald Dunbar. DJs started playing the track off the album. The problem was that “Somebody’s Been Sleeping” was still rolling up the charts and the label didn’t want anything, such as a new single by the same group, to get in the way. That’s where the 8th Day came in. It was simply a matter of changing the group’s name on the label of the single and releasing it on Invictus instead of Hotwax. That is 100 Proof’s Steve Mancha singing lead on “She Not Just Another Woman.” Sure enough, it was a hit, reaching #11 on the pop chart in 1971.
There was one little problem: there was no 8th Day. When the second 8th Day single, “You Got to Crawl (Before You Walk)” began to find some chart success, that problem had to be resolved, and quickly. Holland-Dozier-Holland did what they had done so well before and simply assembled a group for the occasion. The lineup included Melvin Davis, Tony Newsome, Lyman Woodard, Larry Hutchison, Ron Bykowski, Michael Anthony, Bruce Nazarian, Jerry Paul, Lynn Harter, Carol Stallings, and Anita Sherman. Now that there was an actual band, 8th Day recorded two more singles for Invictus but while “Eeny-Meeny-Miny-Mo (Three’s a Crowd)” and “If I Could See the Light” both reached the R&B Top 30, it wasn’t enough to keep the band together.
Holland-Dozier-Holland are often credited for their brilliant songwriting and production but it seems that they were also pretty adept at assembling talent and providing songs for their put-together groups to take up the charts.