Today's artists are an American funk/soul band, which was at its peak in the late 1970s through the mid 1980s. The members of the group met as mostly freshmen at Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in 1968, and signed with Motown in November 1972, having first caught the public eye opening for The Jackson 5 while on tour. Renowned for the R&B hits "Just to Be Close to You," "Easy," and "Brickhouse," to name but a few, Commodores were one of the top bands during their long tenure at Motown. The group is credited with seven number one songs and a host of other Top Ten hits on the Billboard charts, and their vast catalog includes more than 50 albums. . ... N'joy
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The members of Commodores, all of whom attended Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, came together as a result of two groups disbanding: the Mystics and the Jays. Initially formed to simply play music as a pastime and to meet girls, the lineup consisted of William King (trumpet), Thomas McClary (guitar), Ronald LaPread (bass), Walter "Clyde" Orange (drums), Lionel Richie (saxophone), and Milan Williams (keyboards). The members nearly went stir-crazy trying to pick a name for the group, but with no success. As a last resort, Orange gave King a dictionary and told him to pick a name -- that name was the Commodores. With Clyde Orange the only learned musician in the group, Commodores began spreading their music throughout their base, which included Tuskegee, Montgomery, and Birmingham, AL.
After success securing dates in their own backyard, the band ventured to New York City for a gig at Smalls Paradise. Told, in so many words by the club owner, that their sound was not happening, the self-contained band was nevertheless called back to the club to fill in for a last-minute cancellation. That night the Tuskegee alumni performed before a standing-room-only crowd -- most of which were friends and family of the band. Unaware of the planned crowd, the owner booked the band for two more weeks.
Commodores' long association with Motown began as a result of a tour opening for the Jackson 5. That opportunity occurred in 1971, when the group auditioned in New York City for an unknown yet high-profile gig. Two weeks later, they made their first appearance in the prized support slot, and didn't give it up for more than two years. Their excellent shows naturally led to a deal with Motown, and they debuted with the up-tempo instrumental dance cut "Machine Gun." Written by Milan Williams, its Top Ten outing gave the group immediate attention. It was followed by the Top 20 single "I Feel Sanctified," which led to their third single -- and first number one record -- in "Slippery When Wet." Inside of 17 weeks, the septet was rocking the airwaves with their brand of Southern funk, spiced with an animated vocal delivery courtesy of Lionel Richie and Clyde Orange.
In September of 1976, they released "Just to Be Close to You," their second number one single and a number seven pop hit. The Top Ten hit "Fancy Dancer" followed, and then came "Easy." Different from their other tunes, "Easy" was very serene and not nearly as soulful or funky as the band's other tunes. Nonetheless, it claimed the number one spot on the charts, and it paved the way for the style of ballads the group became known for. One exception to the ballad-heavy approach was "Brickhouse," the song that soon became the group's anthem. The arrangement and candid vocal lead by Clyde Orange was complemented by the evenly saturated percussive and rhythmic attack, and it cracked the Top Ten at number four. Two consecutive number one singles would follow: the dance cut "Too Hot ta Trot" and the placid number "Three Times a Lady." And then there was "Still," the last number one for the group with Richie as a member. In 1981, Richie recorded "Endless Love" with Diana Ross. The song peaked at number one for seven and nine weeks, respectively, on the Billboard R&B and pop charts. Its success was a prelude to what Richie enjoyed upon his 1982 exit from the group.
In the absence of Richie, the group promptly courted tenor J.D. Nicholas (formerly of Heatwave) and ended up recording their biggest hit. Penned by Clyde Orange, "Nightshift" paid tribute to the late soul singers Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson. For four consecutive weeks it topped the charts, and it also won the group their only Grammy.
Commodores finally left Motown in 1985. Consequently, the group signed with Polydor the same year and had another swing at the Top Ten with "Goin' to the Bank." During the '90s, the band was reduced to a core of three: Orange, King, and Nicholas. The threesome were nearly as active as they'd ever been, performing around the world and managing their own label, Commodore Records.
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Hot on the heels of their 1977 self-titled LP -- which included studio versions of the classics "Brick House" and "Easy" -- Commodores Live! was issued as a seasonal offering the same year. The band wisely included extended readings of not only its most recent hits, but also a healthy sampling from its previous four studio albums, as well as the track "Too Hot ta Trot," which had been featured in the motion picture Thank God It's Friday. The six-man original Commodores were a powerful and self-contained unit that could effortlessly alternate between turning over mean and serious funk jams or a slow, sexy power ballad. Heralded as the Black Beatles, the Commodores were able to fuse a more traditional pop music headlong into the funk stylings of their contemporaries: Parliament, the Ohio Players, and Earth, Wind & Fire. However, instead of being propelled by seemingly endless -- and often aimless -- jams, William King (trumpet), Thomas McClary (guitar), Ronald LaPread (bass), Walter "Clyde" Orange (drums), Lionel Richie (alto saxophone), and Milan Williams (keyboards) were able to tighten up their arrangements and make them more potent in the process. From right out of the gate, the opening trio of "Won't You Come Dance With Me," "Slippery When Wet," and "Come Inside" pounce and bounce around with undeniably hardcore funk grooves -- replete with distorted and screaming electric lead guitar lines, emphatic accents from the horns, and an authoritative rhythm section that James Brown would have been proud of. The mellower side of the band is equally represented by several key Lionel Richie ballads. "Just to Be Close to You" shimmers and is notable for Richie's extended vocal interlude. "Easy" -- an audible audience favorite -- swings with an urgency and passion conspicuously lacking in the more familiar studio version. Milan Williams' tasty keyboards are also a highlight as they lightly soar above the rest of the band. Without a doubt it is the ten-plus-minute version of "Brick House" that allows the band to reach a funkified critical mass. Ronald LaPread's rubbery basslines adhere themselves around "Clyde" Orange's Latin-tinged percussion inflections. The searing Richie and William King sound more akin to a full-fledged horn section than the hard-workin' duo behind their wall of solid brass. Commodores Live! is overall one of the finest R&B concert albums of the '70s -- of which there are far too few.
Commodores - Commodores Live ! (flac 472mb)
01 Won't You Come Dance With Me 03:42
02 Slippery When Wet 03:02
03 Come Inside 03:26
04 Just To Be Close To You 07:15
05 Funny Feelings 05:19
06 Fancy Dancer 04:59
07 Sweet Love 08:41
08 Zoom 10:19
09 Easy 07:29
10 I Feel Sanctified 02:56
11 Brick House 10:20
12 Too Hot Ta Trot (Studio Version) 05:38
Commodores - Commodores Live ! (ogg 172mb)
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The Commodores' sixth studio album, Natural High, is best known for the ballad "Three Times a Lady," which became a staple of adult contemporary radio and reached number one on both the pop and R&B charts. "Three Times a Lady" was their first number one pop hit, and Lionel Richie was being recognized as a major crossover star. Not everyone liked "Three Times a Lady" -- some people found the song to be much too sappy, and R&B purists argued that the Commodores were watering their music down. But even if "Three Times a Lady" isn't your cup of tea, Natural High still has a lot to offer R&B fans. "X-Rated Movie," "Such a Woman," and "I Like What You Do" are exhilarating examples of hardcore funk, and those who appreciate artists like Heatwave and the Brothers Johnson will find a lot to admire about "Fire Girl" and "Flying High" (both of which are sleek examples of the sophisticated funk style). Meanwhile, "Say Yeah" (featuring Richie) is a first-rate R&B slow jam. Whatever your opinion of "Three Times a Lady" -- whether you love it or hate it -- the fact is that Natural High has more plusses than minuses and was a generally respectable, if imperfect, addition to the Commodores' catalog.
Commodores - Natural High (flac 252mb)
01 Fire Girl 4:19
02 X-rated Movie 4:48
03 Flying High 5:16
04 Three Times A Lady 6:49
05 Such A Woman 4:41
06 Say Yeah 5:43
07 I Like What You Do 4:50
08 Visions 5:45
Commodores - Natural High (ogg 98mb)
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When the Commodores' seventh studio album, Midnight Magic, came out in 1979, one could safely assume that the LP would contain at least one adult contemporary ballad. And sure enough, Midnight Magic contains the ballad "Still," which was a number one pop hit (as well as a number one R&B hit) and became a staple on adult contemporary radio. The sappy ballad (which features Lionel Richie) wasn't without its detractors, who felt that the Commodores had become too much of a slick crossover act. But even if "Still" doesn't excite you, the rest of the album isn't bad. "Wonderland" (a number 21 R&B hit) is an enjoyable R&B slow jam, and fans of sophisticated funk (as opposed to hardcore funk) should appreciate "You're Special," "Gettin' It," and the disco-minded title song. "Sexy Lady" is the only thing on the LP that can honestly be described as hardcore funk; most of the up-tempo tunes favor the type of sophisticated funk that the Brothers Johnson, Rufus/Chaka Khan, and Heatwave were known for in the late '70s. Next to "Still," the album's best-known track is "Sail On," which reached number eight on Billboard's R&B singles chart (and number four on its pop single chart) despite the fact that it is essentially a pop-country song. Some R&B purists saw "Sail On" as a blatant example of how watered down the Commodores had become, but it's still a charming and likable tune -- one that wouldn't have been out of place on a Dolly Parton or Glen Campbell LP. Midnight Magic isn't one of the Commodores' essential releases, and R&B purists are advised to stick to the band's pre-1977 albums. Nonetheless, this is a generally decent, if uneven, record that has more strengths than weaknesses.
Commodores - Midnight Magic (flac 237mb)
01 Gettin' It 4:18
02 Midnight Magic 5:42
03 You're Special 5:10
04 Still 5:51
05 Wonderland 5:28
06 Sexy Lady 3:30
07 Lovin' You 4:36
08 Sail On 5:43
09 12:01 A.M. (Reprise) 0:59
Commodores - Midnight Magic (ogg 97mb)
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Nightshift is the eleventh studio album by the Commodores, released by Motown Records in January 1985. It was the group's last album on the Motown label before switching to Polydor. Nightshift is the Commodores' second album without Lionel Richie, who left the band in 1982, and their last album with their original bass guitarist Ronald LaPread. Their previous album Commodores 13 (1983) had featured interim lead vocalist Harold Hudson of Mean Machine. For Nightshift the Commodores permanently replaced Richie with British-born J.D. Nicholas, formerly of Heatwave. Dennis Lambert was chosen as producer, the Commodores hoping to find the same magic created by producer–arranger James Anthony Carmichael, with whom they had worked since 1974 and who was a major impetus in their earlier success.
Despite the album's middling reviews, it remained in the top of the R&B charts in the US for a month, and it peaked at #3 on the pop chart. By and large, the album's popularity was due to its hit title track, "Nightshift". Written by Walter Orange, Dennis Lambert and Franne Golde, "Nightshift" was the band's biggest post-Lionel Richie hit, reaching #3 on The Billboard Hot 100, and #1 on Billboard's chart for top R&B/hip-hop singles. Paying tribute to the late soul singers Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson, who both died in 1984, "Nightshift" also earned the group its only Grammy.
Commodores - Nightshift (flac 263mb)
01 Squeeze The Fruit 3:00
02 Funny Feelings 4:51
03 Heaven Knows 4:41
04 Zoom 6:43
05 Won't You Come Dance With Me 3:47
06 Brick House 3:27
07 Funky Situation 3:39
08 Patch It Up 3:58
09 Easy 4:16
Commodores - Nightshift (ogg 91mb)
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