By Michael P Coleman
If you only know the legendary Lamont Dozier from his stint with the iconic Motown writing and production team Holland-Dozier-Holland, you don’t know Lamont Dozier.
Granted, if that had been Dozier’s only accomplishment, his place is entertainment history would be secure. HDH is behind many of the most beloved pop songs of the 20th century, including “Stop! In The Name Of Love,” “Love Is Like A Heatwave,” “Reach Out (I’ll Be There,” “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You,” “Baby Love,” and countless other songs made famous by icons like Diana Ross & The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops, and Martha & The Vandellas.
After his stint with Motown, Dozier went on to release a series of critically acclaimed solo albums in the 1970s and wrote hits for artists like Peabo Bryson, Phil Collins, Boy George, and Eric Clapton in the 1980s. With all of that behind him, Dozier may have just released the best album of his career.
Dozier’s new project, the aptly entitled Reimagination, revisits 13 of his Motown classics and interprets them in entirely different ways. Prepare yourself to hear songs like “Stop! In The Name Of Love,” “Reach Out (I’ll Be There),” “Love Is Here And Now You’re Gone,” and “Take Me In Your Arms” in phenomenally different ways. Dozier’s influences with these new arrangements are all over the place — gospel, country, even zydeco! In at least a few cases, Dozier’s new album includes definitive versions of songs that are cherished by generations of music fans worldwide.
During our EXCLUSIVE interview, Dozier shared that Reimagination was decades in the making.
“I’d had this idea for a long time, because I’d always felt that these songs had a lot of depth to them, that they could be done with different arrangements,” the 77 year old legend shared. “All of these songs came about in ballad form, and then in the studio, Brian [Holland] and I would take a look at the arrangements and change the beat or whatever to make them more commercial for the time. Most songs that I write have a second feeling, you might say, and you can arrange them with a different attitude.”
“The timing is perfect [for the new album] because a lot of the people who grew up with these songs remember them one way, but now that they’re older they may reminisce when they hear these songs, and they’ll have a different emotional context when heard in this vein.”
Without a doubt, Dozier’s new Reimagination album is going to expose his classic compositions to a brand new, even wider audience. Coming from a songwriter who from the outset wanted to reach beyond boundaries, music fans shouldn’t be too surprised by that.
“When I started with Motown, I told [founder] Berry Gordy that a lot of the stuff the company was doing was R & B, but I always thought that music should be for everybody, and if you played your cards right and wrote the right songs, everybody could get involved with it and you could sell a lot of records. Berry and I always thought the company could go further if we eliminated the race attitude with music.”
As Dozier is perhaps best known as a songwriter, arranger, and producer, it may surprise some that, after over 50 years in the music business, he still sounds so good.
“I sing every day and I play the piano,” Dozier confides. “I’m writing and yelling and screaming. Constantly trying to reach notes, and reach for higher notes. Just like you exercise your body by walking or whatever, in this case I sing every day and that keeps my vocal chords strong.”
Dozier said he plans a worldwide promotional tour for Reimagination beginning in early 2019, and plans to include several stateside dates. And if fans continue responding well to Reimagination, the legend says there’s more than enough material to revisit, and that he’d like to release a sequel or two.
“There were just so many hit songs that we wrote, some 76 Top 10s that we released,” Dozier remembers. “I always felt that these songs had different attitudes and different feelings, and it just took the right time to bring them out.”
Lamont Dozier’s brilliant Reimagination is available on iTunes, Apple Music, and all other digital outlets, as well as on amazon.com.
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