Natural High/Midnight Magic

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When it came time for Motown to package its Commodores catalog for the CD market, they paired up the albums into a series of two-fers, one of the more suitable pairings being Natural High/Midnight Magic. These back to back albums, from 1978 and 1979 respectively, flow together well. Neither is one of the group's best overall albums, but each has a good share of hits that add up to a satisfying albeit spotty sum, one that includes a pair of gigantic hits, "Three Times a Lady" and "Still." These two crossover hits are both quiet piano ballads sung by Lionel Richie, who had made such songs his stock-in-trade by this point, delivering one or two on every successive Commodores album, to generally greater and greater (and broader) success each go round. There are several other noteworthy songs here on this two-fer, including good old-fashioned soul-funk jams from Natural High like "Fire Girl" and "Flying High" and self-conscious disco-funk steppers from Midnight Magic like the title track and "Sexy Lady." Above all, it's this leap from soul- to disco-funk that distinguishes the two albums from one another, to the chagrin of many longtime fans at the time, no doubt. Regardless, Natural High/Midnight Magic functions well as a two-fer, as neither album is particularly noteworthy on its own; it's a great value for anyone who has chosen to round up all the Commodores albums rather than settle for a one-stop compilation or cherry-pick a couple albums.

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