Commodores

Midnight Magic

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When the Commodores' seventh studio album, Midnight Magic, came out in 1979, one could safely assume that the LP would contain at least one adult contemporary ballad. And sure enough, Midnight Magic contains the ballad "Still," which was a number one pop hit (as well as a number one R&B hit) and became a staple on adult contemporary radio. The sappy ballad (which features Lionel Richie) wasn't without its detractors, who felt that the Commodores had become too much of a slick crossover act. But even if "Still" doesn't excite you, the rest of the album isn't bad. "Wonderland" (a number 21 R&B hit) is an enjoyable R&B slow jam, and fans of sophisticated funk (as opposed to hardcore funk) should appreciate "You're Special," "Gettin' It," and the disco-minded title song. "Sexy Lady" is the only thing on the LP that can honestly be described as hardcore funk; most of the up-tempo tunes favor the type of sophisticated funk that the Brothers Johnson, Rufus/Chaka Khan, and Heatwave were known for in the late '70s. Next to "Still," the album's best-known track is "Sail On," which reached number eight on Billboard's R&B singles chart (and number four on its pop single chart) despite the fact that it is essentially a pop-country song. Some R&B purists saw "Sail On" as a blatant example of how watered down the Commodores had become, but it's still a charming and likable tune -- one that wouldn't have been out of place on a Dolly Parton or Glen Campbell LP. Midnight Magic isn't one of the Commodores' essential releases, and R&B purists are advised to stick to the band's pre-1977 albums. Nonetheless, this is a generally decent, if uneven, record that has more strengths than weaknesses.

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