Machine

Machine

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In the early '70s, R&B was full of sociopolitical message songs. But during the disco era of the late '70s, most soul and disco artists avoided social and political topics and stayed away from controversial subject matter. One major exception to that rule was Machine, whose "There But for the Grace of God Go I" was among the most captivating disco-soul singles of 1979. The cult classic brought dance floors to life with its insistent groove, but its lyrics were hardly typical of disco, "Grace" is about Latino immigrants who move to the U.S. in search of a better life only to find out how brutally tough life in the Boogie Down Bronx can be. A brilliant piece of social commentary, "Grace" is every bit as compelling as Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues," Curtis Mayfield's "Freddie's Dead," or Grandmaster Flash's "The Message." It's also the best known song on Machine's self-titled debut album, although it isn't the only thing on the LP that is worth hearing. The other songs on Machine -- some of which tackle social issues, some of which don't -- are pleasing examples of soul, funk, or disco even though they fall short of "Grace"'s brilliance. Machine wasn't a big seller, but those who did acquire the album agreed that the band had enormous potential.

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