As a band The Commodores were a bit of a musical dichotomy. Historians will typically list them as a funk group and without a doubt, the boys could bring the funk–check out songs like “Fancy Dancer” and “Too Hot Ta Trot.” Their instrumental funk jam “Machine Gun” was a disco era favorite and their signature jam, “Brick House,” is an all around classic, a must have for DJs and cover bands. What separated the Commodores from many other funk groups however, was the universal nature of their ballads. The group had their soulful slow jams such as “Just to Be Close to You,” their first ballad to hit the top of the charts; pop-influenced hits such as “Three Times A Lady,” “Easy” and “Still;” and we even gave them a pass back in the day and actually dug country tinged ballads like “Sail On” and “Oh No.” “Three Times A Lady” and “Still” made it to the top of both the R&B and pop charts. “Still” was released in 1979, just a couple of years before lead singer Lionel Richie took off to launch an extremely successful solo career.
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Two years later “Still” was back on the charts when John Schneider, the star of television’s The Dukes of Hazzard, covered it on his album. Just weeks ago, Lionel Richie hit the top of the charts with the release of his country album Tuskegee. He joins Ray Charles as the only artists in history to have number one albums on both the country and R&B charts. Tuskegee is a compilation of country duets of both Commodores songs as well as Richie’s solo releases. It’s currently the best-selling country album of the year and the first country album in over a year to spend two consecutive weeks atop the Billboard 200, proving that good songs stand the test of both time and genre.
Montrose Cunningham is an independent funk/rock/soul artist and devoted music aficionado residing in Dallas, Texas. When he isn’t digging through the crates–digital and analog–he’s jamming with his band or hanging with his daughter; sometimes both at the same time. Purchase his latest release “Inertia” at www.MontroseMusic.com, visit him at Facebook, and follow him on Twitter @MontroseC.