Not Just Another Pair of Parens

Listeners to my selections on Blip.fm wouldn’t be surprised if I were to write a post on a song with a parenthetical title — for example, “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World is Today)” — due to my propensity for “blipping” such songs. That post won’t be this one, though. Rather, this one is about a song by a band with a parenthetical name. Wow! The song is “She’s Not Just Another Woman” by 100 Proof (Aged in Soul), um, I mean the 8th Day. I’ll explain the confusion about the name of the band after I get through extolling the virtues of the song.

“She’s Not Just Another Woman” went to #11 on the US pop charts in 1971. I have a memory of it being played in my junior high school cafeteria during lunch break, but that memory must be inaccurate, for the last lunch break I had in that particular school was at the end of September 1970. Distant memories are easily confused, aren’t they? Musical memories may be especially prone to confusion.

“Just” plants its instrumental hook in the opening measures. Then it cooks along with Steve Mancha’s demonstrative lead vocal so gritty some may find it abrasive. The variations in tempo and the hard, straight-ahead drumming that punctuates the up-shifts work particularly well for me.

Lyrically, “Just” is a tribute to the singer’s lover, a powerful woman, almost larger than life, adept at pulling out all the stops when it comes to consoling — and controlling — her man. When he is troubled …

She knows the things to say
To help my troubles away
And when the words she say won’t do
She’ll try a kiss or two
And if her kisses fail to move me
she’ll take a little time to soothe me

It wasn’t easy for her in the early days of their relationship …

From a one room dirty shack
She washed the clothes on my back

But now that times are better, she’s not one to rest on her laurels …

Don’t know where she gets the power
Her lovin’ gets strong by the hour

The lyrics stress the importance of familial ties, with references to the singer’s father, generic siblings, and of course …

I never thought I’d find another
Who gave me more love than my own mother

That’s putting the soul in soul music! Andrew Hamilton, in his review of the song on AllMusic.com, describes “Just” as a “stomper”. How apt.

Now — about the artist to which “Just” is credited … Hamilton explains:

The fall of 1970 found 100 Proof assailing the charts … “Somebody’s Been Sleeping” climbed to number eight pop and sold a million copies. Hotwax released an LP to roll with the single. Everybody knew [another track on the 100 Proof album] “She’s Not Just Another Woman” was a hit, some jocks were already playing it off the album. Not wanting to interrupt the flow of 100 Proof’s hit, [the famed writing and producing team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland] decided to release [“Just”], … under the name 8th Day on Invictus.

As expected, [“Just”] ascended the charts and became a major hit, but there was no 8th Day. Not yet. As the next 8th Day single, [“You’ve Got to Crawl (Before You Walk)”], climbed the charts, [Holland-Dozier-Holland] assembled a group with Melvin Davis (a solo artist on Invictus), Antonio “Tony” Newsome, Lyman Woodard, Larry Hutchison, Ron Bykowski, and three females. Their other singles never equaled the first, which they didn’t sing anyway.

What a great back story: A hit single recorded by one band, 100 Proof (Aged in Soul) — is credited to another band, the 8th Day — before the latter even exists!

Hamilton provides helpful context for understanding how this and other, less dramatic, anomalies of this sort could come about:

Many of the groups Lamont Dozier and Eddie and Brian Holland (HDH) signed to their family of labels (Invictus, Hot Wax, Music Merchant) in the late ’60s were supergrouped or piecemealed together. When the labels went under, the groups followed suit, and understandably so; they had no ties, and often weren’t even friends. The songs published by Gold Forever Music aren’t often performed live because the entities ceased to exist a day after the company folded; hits like “Want Ads,” “Give Me Just a Little More Time,” “Somebody’s Been Sleeping in My Bed,” “Westbound #9,” and many more …

To be fair I’ve overstated the degree of “Just” anomaly. There was indeed talent shared between the two bands:

Clyde Wilson — known professionally as Steve Mancha — and Ronald Dunbar wrote [“Just”]; Mancha sang with 100 Proof and sings lead on the number; this is why he’s listed as a member of both groups in many biographies.

It’s not clear to me whether Wilson/Mancha was involved with the second 8th Day single, “You’ve Got to Crawl (Before You Walk)”. (Hey look, more parens!) If I had to guess I would say not, because while Dunbar is listed as one of its four co-writers, Wilson/Mancha is not.

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