Commodores —MACHINE GUN (1974)

the_commodores_machine_gunReview By: Roland Bruynesteyn
Assigned By: Reece Wilson

Everybody seems to know the Commodores as the vehicle that launched Lionel Richie’s solo career. Dancing on the ceiling, Hello and co-writer of We are the world. The Commodores you might also know as the group that made Three times a lady, sung by Lionel.

This music is totally unlike that. It’s got more in common with Parliament/Funkadelic: way funkier than they would become later on, no sappy ballads and several other singers than just Lionel, who is hardly recognizable anyway. It also reminds me of Stevie Wonder in this period, think Superstition. Especially the song Rapid Fire has a similar sound in parts.

In a way, if you like this music, you have great taste, and/or are probably somewhat older than 40. It sure sounds dated, compared to modern dance music because of the (real!) horn section, the arrangement of background vocals and general production, but it’s so much better!

Some standout tracks: Machine gun, the perfect instrumental to start the album: very catchy, very happy and full of youthful exuberance. The Zoo (The Human Zoo), which was apparently recorded a few years before, contains some hippy vibes, as if it’s an outtake of the musical Hair. Gonna Blow Your Mind is percussion-heavy and has James Brown-type groovy drumming. Also, I think Steve Winwood should have covered There’s A Song In My Heart somewhere in the late 80’s.

Other songs may not be that memorable. Young Girls Are My Weakness (the title would probably not fit the current political climate) is a little whiny in places and Superman, the last song on the album, is a little too much disco for me, because of the repeating bass riff, but they don’t disturb the flow.

A great plus for me is the fact that several people sing lead and backing vocals. Even if the whole album is firmly locked in funky up-tempo grooves, this makes for varied listening.

Play this music at your party and people WILL dance!