Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be the 50 Greatest Live Albums of All Time, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
THE COMMODORES | Commodores Live!
Selected by Steven E. Flemming, Jr.
Too often dismissed as a chapter in the great Lionel Richie’s stratospheric career, the Commodores helped define band-oriented black pop in the seventies. With dizzying stylistic range and a grasp of showmanship to match, the second-generation Motown sextet were among the few R&B acts of the period to raise the rooftops off of arenas generally associated with rock stars.
Recorded in front of ecstatic audiences in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., Commodores Live! brought renewed force to the punchy, high-precision funk of the band’s best numbers. The highlights were plentiful: “Slippery When Wet,” “Fancy Dancer,” and “Brick House” were tight as ever, while the beautiful ballads “Just to Be Close to You,” “Sweet Love,” “Zoom,” and “Easy” were even more affecting when given the breathing room of a live show. Like Earth, Wind & Fire’s Gratitude, Commodores Live! is a milestone in the evolution of R&B as a cultural movement and sonic equalizer.