Best remembered for the Northern soul classic "The Next in Line," Hoagy Lands was reportedly the favorite singer of the renowned producer Bert Berns, who helmed many of his recordings. Berns' admiration failed to translate to commercial success, however. Born Victor Hoagland in New Brunswick, New Jersey on May 4, 1936, he was in middle school when he formed his first vocal group, the Dynaflows. A stint in the New Brunswick Heart Throbs followed. Lands mounted his solo career in 1959 with his debut single "Oo-Be-Do" for the Ivory label. He first teamed with Berns for 1960's "(I'm Gonna) Cry Some Tears," initially issued on the independent label Judi. The record proved a regional hit and was licensed for national re-release by ABC-Paramount. Lands' heart-wrenching, Sam Cooke-like tenor clearly resonated with Berns, who created some of his finest records for the singer. Together they cut the gorgeous, Latin-inspired ballad "My Tears Are Try" for MGM, followed in 1962 by an inventive reading of the perennial "Goodnight Irene." Neither was a hit, however, and Lands did not resurface until 1963, recording "Tender Years" for ABC-Paramount. His masterpiece, the Berns-produced ballad "Baby Come on Home," appeared on Atlantic the following year and was his sole release for the venerable soul imprint.
Lands spent much of the late 1960s at Laurie, cutting five singles for the label from 1966 to 1968. None were commercial hits upon their original release, but "The Next in Line" (featuring girl group extraordinaire the Chiffons on backing vocals) later proved a major fan favorite on Britain's Northern soul circuit. Berns' tragic death on December 30, 1967 effectively spelled the end of Lands' creative heyday and in 1969, he moved to Laurie's Spectrum subsidiary, a tenure inaugurated with "Beautiful Music," the first of two duets with Lily Fields. "Sweet Soul (Brother)" followed a year later. At this time Lands teamed with producer John Bennings and arranger Robert Banks and adopted a funk-inspired approach for efforts including 1972's excellent "A Man Ain't No Stronger Than His Heart," recorded with session aces Richard Tee on guitar, Gordon Edwards on bass and Bernard Purdie on drums. After one final Spectrum effort, "The Bell Ringer," Lands exited the label, effectively bringing his recording career to a close. After close to 25 years out of the limelight, he appeared at several Northern soul clubs at century's end, although 1998 open heart surgery slowed his pace considerably. After suffering a severe fall at his Orange, New Jersey home, Lands died January 12, 2002. His grandson Jaheim carried on the family business, however, recording a pair of hip-hop LPs for Warner Bros. ~ Jason Ankeny