Commodores, Live! (1977)
You all know that I love Lionel and that I even got to interview him. But for some reason – as far as a lot of people are concerned – it’s fair to love the Commodores but not the solo career of Lionel Richie. And this is just a theory I’ve made up and am thinking through right now, but I reckon that a lot of Commodores fans resent Lionel’s solo career because they figure Lionel’s fans don’t get – or care for – the Commodores. Funny to think that people can love the Commodores but not Lionel. If they really, truly loved The Commodores they’d love Lionel’s solo career (some of it, anyway) nearly as much. You can go on all you like about the funk and the band and the soul and the groove – but there were a lot of Commodores ballads. And a song like Just To Be Close To You is something Lionel is regularly rewriting. So maybe it’s a lot of the Commodores fans who are the fly-by-nighters – in for a cheap pound of Brick House, keen for a bit of basic Easy and a bit of Too Hot Ta Trot or Fancy Dancer. I dig all of it – and these days I dig the Commodores stuff a lot more but the best of the solo work is fine by me too. And in fact, growing up, I could hardly tell the difference. A song like Sail On, you’d believe it was a Lionel song first right? Nah, that’s Commodores. So, anyway, this [Live!] album is a killer – all the hits up to that time; a real sense of why this band was so loved – such a great live band. There’s the perfect mix of entertainment, balls-out joy and some good ole songcraft and musicianship. It all comes together. And the standout – the album centrepiece – is Zoom. Sweet, sweet Zoom. Such a sad and brilliant song. The handful of times I’ve DJ’d this almost always gets a spin. Such a great song and a great version of it, spinning on over ten minutes. It’s heartbreaking if you know the story behind it – it’s got such a big, deep soulful groove to it too. And you can go take a piss and grab a beer while it’s playing. Beautiful, I tell ya.
Sample Track: Zoom
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