Friday, March 27, 2009

And ... On The 8th Day ...

Six years ago we ran a special piece on The 8th Day as part of Frannie's recurring "Forgotten Soul Hits" Series. At the time, we referred to them as "a group of studio musicians from Detroit assembled by the Holland - Dozier - Holland team for their brand new Invictus label."

Their biggest hit, "She's Not Just Another Woman", made it all the way to # 11 on the Billboard Pop Chart in May of 1971. (It reached #8 on The Cash Box Pop Chart and was a #3 Billboard Soul Chart Smash as well.) A follow-up single, "You've Got To Crawl Before You Walk", reached #28 and then they were gone.

We have since learned that "She's Not Just Another Woman" was first recorded back in 1970 by the group 100 Proof Aged In Soul for Holland - Dozier - Holland's Hot Wax label. Apparently, they then took the exact same track from THAT record and released a year later as a single with the name The 8th Day on the label! (100 Proof Aged In Soul had their OWN Forgotten Hit when "Somebody's Been Sleeping" made The Top Ten in 1970.)

Ironically, both groups appeared to maintain separate identities ... and continue to do so in most publications today. According to Joel Whitburn's Book, "Billboard's Top Pop Singles, 1955 - 2006", The 8th Day line-up consisted of Melvin Davis on vocals and drums, Lynn Harter on vocals, Michael Anthony and Bruce Nazarian on guitar, Carole Stallings on electric violin, Anita Sherman on vibes, Jerry Paul on percussion and Tony Newton on bass ... an eight-piece, self-contained unit. (Nazarian went on to become part of Brownsville Station of "Smokin' In The Boys' Room" fame.) Yet if you check the listing for 100 Proof Aged In Soul, you'll find their lead vocalist listed as Clyde Wilson (who ALSO sang lead for The 8th Day under the name Steve Mancha, even though he's not listed in Whitburn's 8th Day entry), Joe Stubbs (Levi's brother ... Levi, of course, was the voice behind Motown's Four Tops, from whence Holland - Dozier - Holland sprang) and Eddie Anderson (aka Eddie Holiday)!

A quick listen to "She's Not Just Another Woman" by both artists reveals that they are, in fact, the exact same track! (Since 100 Proof Aged In Soul hit the charts first, it's unclear as to why anyone felt a name change was necessary ... they could have kept their OWN hit streak going a little bit longer had they just left well enough alone!) And this is not the only track the two bands shared in common ... Andrew Hamilton notes in his "All Music Guide" review that three of the tracks from 100 Proof's debut album appear as the same identical tracks and vocals on The 8th Day's release ... these include "I've Come to Save You," "Too Many Cooks," and "She's Not Just Another Woman". In fact, a Melvin Davis solo release, "I'm Worried," also appears there!

We were curious to get to the bottom of this mystery ... and found THIS information published as part of an interview that Melvin Davis did with Rob Moss in "Soul Search" last year:

According to this interview, Melvin received a call in 1968 from an old friend, Ronnie Dunbar, who had been around the Detroit music scene since the early 1960's. It seemed that the legendary Motown songwriting team of Holland - Dozier - Holland were setting up their own Invictus and Hot Wax record labels, having recently left Motown, and as a staff producer, Dunbar had been working with several local writers, including Steve Mancha, to produce a number of songs intended for future release. Several of the songs were sung by Mancha himself, but the rest were given to Melvin Davis, who was only paid to sing them on an "ad hoc" basis, but was not signed as an artist. Davis told interviewer Rob Moss, “I got paid $100 for each song and thought they were just scratch vocals so that Dunbar could shop the songs around. Then they put one of them out and it takes off.” That song was "She’s Not Just Another Woman”, which was released three years later in 1971. The record was credited to The 8th Day, a group that did not actually exist. It was, in fact, Steve Mancha, who could not be identified because he was already the lead vocalist for another group on the label, 100 Proof Aged in Soul. When the record became a hit on both the R & B and Pop Charts, it became clear that a follow up single and an album was needed. Invictus had recorded enough material with both Melvin Davis and Steve Mancha over those ensuing years so that when an album was subsequently released by The 8th Day, it contained seven songs sung by Davis and two by Mancha ... but there was no band personnel to go out and perform live or undertake promotional duties. Ronnie Dunbar and bassist Tony Newton decided to create a group in a similar mold to Sly and the Family Stone, who were very popular at the time, and began auditioning candidates in California. Davis told Rob Moss: ”They went down to California and auditioned all these people before settling on a line up they were happy with. But it just didn’t work. They were all from different musical backgrounds and didn’t work like I was used to. That tour was a disaster. The album was all different styles too – a couple of my songs but all this other weird stuff. It bombed."

After the disastrous tour, six new members were recruited and, with Newton and Davis, became The 8th Day who recorded a second album and began a tour of the U.S. Neither went well and Melvin Davis eventually quit the group and signed on as a solo artist, writer and producer with the company. When no more hits were forthcoming, Davis quit for good not long afterwards.

Today, Melvin Davis is a highly regarded session player whose resume is QUITE impressive. You can check it all out here: Click here: Melvin Lee Davis

One For Good Measure:
Here's the 100 Proof Aged In Soul hit "Somebody's Been Sleeping" ... certainly THIS one deserves a spin this week!!!

I just got this nice note from chart guru Joel Whitburn after I sent him an advance copy of our 8th Day / 100 Proof Aged In Soul piece:

Hi Kent,
Many thanks for your piece on The 8th Day. I've updated their bio for my upcoming "Top Pop Singles 1955-2008" book. Not only were R&B music fans confused about that group, but I'll bet the artists themselves weren't completely sure who was singing in what group back then!