For the Commodores, losing Lionel Richie in 1982 was a lot like L.T.D. losing Jeffrey Osborne and Rose Royce losing Gwen Dickey -- it was a severe blow, although not a fatal one. In fact, the Commodores had a few major hits after Richie's departure, including "Nightshift" (a number one R&B/number three pop smash) in 1984 and "Goin' to the Bank" in 1986. Released in 1983, Commodores 13 was the band's first post-Richie album as well as its first album without producer James Carmichael (who had been working with the Commodores since 1974). This LP came out around the same time as Richie's second solo album, Can't Slow Down, which sold over eight million copies in the U.S. alone. Commodores 13 didn't do nearly that well, although it's a generally decent, if uneven, record that had a number 20 R&B hit in "Only You." The lead vocals are handled by Walter Orange, Thomas McClary, and the Mean Machine's Harold Hudson, who was an interim vocalist rather than an official full-time vocalist. Not surprisingly, the Commodores cover both their R&B bases and their pop bases, getting into everything from sleek keyboard funk ("Touchdown," "Nothing Like a Woman") to adult contemporary ballads ("Only You"). Meanwhile, "Ooo Woman You," which McClary co-wrote with Melissa Manchester, is a catchy pop/rock number. Is Commodores 13 a masterpiece? No. This release isn't in a class with essential treasures like 1976's Hot on the Tracks or 1977's The Commodores. But it isn't a bad album, and it indicated that there could be life after Lionel Richie for the Commodores.
Commodores 13 Review
by Alex Henderson