The Commodores are mostly known for their slow jams — tunes like "Sail On," and "Easy," featuring former frontman Lionel Richie's exceptionally smooth voice. But the band also excelled at high-energy funk: "Brick House," with Clyde Orange on vocals, became one of their biggest hits and still jams hard, even if it comes across as tame when compared with stuff by The Meters, Sly and the Family Stone, and Parliament/Funkadelic. Even better is "Machine Gun," a brisk, synthesizer- and clavinet-led instrumental cut, from the band's 1974 album of the same name, and "Superman," from the same album, which finds Richie singing from the point of view of the superhero himself. It's fun to imagine the tune playing over the opening scenes of the first Superman film starring Christopher Reeve, which certainly would have been funkier than the John Williams-composed theme. Richie left the band in 1982, but the group has soldiered on, hitting the nostalgia market in recent years. The band's mellow gold is sure to get played on stage, but here's hoping the guys will crank out some of the nasty, Southern-fried funk that earned them their initial fame.
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