To paraphrase an old adage: Lamont Dozier gathers no moss.
You might think that someone who’s had a hand in writing 54 #1 songs (including such classics as “Baby Love,” “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “Reach Out, I’ll Be There”); won innumerable accolades (including Grammys, Golden Globes and three consecutive BMI “Songwriter of the Year” awards); and, via the Holland-Dozier-Holland team, become a pop music brand name, would take it easy.
With Dozier, you’d be wrong.
The 62-year-old legend is currently promoting the re-release of his 2002 album, Reflections of Lamont Dozier , on his freshly minted imprint, Jam Right Entertainment, and working on several other projects. Reflections , featuring smoky versions of 12 Motown classics (including the three named above), snagged a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Album. Not bad for a disc that was originally sold only over the Internet.
“A lot of people never knew that it was out,” Dozier says, noting that the re-release is being distributed by WEA. As for the sometimes sultry, introspective rearrangements given several of the tunes, he jokes, “I guess you could say we wanted to give these songs facelifts — or Botox! Actually, most of these songs were originally done as ballads, which let the musicians get the feel for the mood and the essence of each song before we sped it up for the recording.”
For those who might be surprised to hear Dozier in front of the mic, his singing career actually dates back to 1974, when he scored Top 30 hits with “Trying to Hold On To My Woman” and “Fish Ain’t Bitin’.”
“During the ’60s, [Motown founder] Berry Gordy very much wanted me to concentrate on songwriting and put my singing career on the back burner,” he says. “During the ’70s and ’80s I was able to turn that around a bit, but I never did a lot of performing.”
Reflections , he adds, “is unfinished business. For the past five years, I’ve been concentrating much more on this phase.” Plans call for a tour of Europe, Japan and Canada, as well as TV appearances on “The Tonight Show,” “Larry King Live” and others. Another three CDs worth of rearranged Motown classics are also in the bank, with an eye toward eventually repackaging them all as a boxed set.
Meanwhile, Dozier is also shopping a musical called Roll Over Beethoven — which he describes as a Beauty & The Beast -style fantasy — and working with four new Jam Right acts, all featuring songwriting and production not only by him but also by his sons, Beau and Paris. “It’s all in the genes,” he laughs.
The top priority for the moment remains Reflections . “We wanted to pull out all the stops and make it happen,” he says, “because we feel like we really have something here.”
Given all that Lamont Dozier has achieved, who’s willing to argue?