Classics: Commodores – Brick House (Motown)
Just like Kool & The Gang, who started as a Jazz/Funk group before switching to more Disco territories, the Commodores had 2 periods as well. The first one, on a Funk tip. This resulting in gems such as ‘Machine Gun’, ‘Slippery When Wet’, ‘Fancy Dancer’ and ‘Too Hot To Trot’ among others.
‘Brick House’, from their 1977 eponymous album, is most likely another illustration of their penchant. Walter Clyde Orange taking the centerstage vocally speaking after bassist / trumpeter Ronald LaPread chiselled the groove…
The band most likely moved soon after towards a softer sound. Therefore adding classics such as ‘Easy’, ‘Still’,’Three Times A Lady’ and ‘Nightshift’ to their credit.
The Commodores originated back in 1969 while its members attended Tuskegee University, AL. As a matter of fact, they formed from the reunion of two groups by the likes of The Mystics and The Jays.
After establishing themselves locally, they went on to perform at NY’s Town Hall. There, they got hired by talent scout Benjamin Ashurn who soon after became their manager. He brought them to sign a deal with Motown. Altough originally as a support act for The Jackson 5.
The instrumental ‘Machine Gun’, the title track of their 1974 debut-album, opened their route to the glory. Further international chart success eluded though until 1977 and the release of their eponymous album. An album which featured the Funky ‘Brick House’ led by Walter Clyde Orange. But also ‘Easy’ which established Lionel Richie both as a songwriter and a first league singer. A smooth gem that opened the path to many follow-ups and eventually opened a new direction for the group. Producer James Anthony Carmichael crafting classics such as ‘Three Times A Lady’ or ‘Still’. This, before going with Richie when he went solo back in 1982.
It’s most likely fair to say his departure left some emptiness behind. With the Commodores failing to recapture their initial success without him. They briefly got back under the spotlights back in 1985 though. With the release of ‘Nightshift’ produced by Dennis Lambert, as a tribute to both Jackie Wilson and Marvin Gaye. A song which they eventually re-recorded adding a mention to Michael Jackson, following his death back in 2009.
The Commodores have released a total of 19 albums between 1974 and 1998. This including a Live set and a Xmas package. They continue to perform around the world nowadays. Consisting of Walter ‘Clyde’ Orange, James Dean ‘J.D.’ Nicholas, and William ‘WAK’ King, along with their five-piece band, known as the Mean Machine…