Commodores, the 1977 self-titled fifth studio album by the pop-funk-soul band once described as the “Black Beatles,” will get a vinyl LP release June 16 from Universal Music Enterprises, along with a special edition in blue vinyl for fans and collectors. Both releases were cut from the original, unfaded masters, delivering on vinyl for the first time longer versions of seven of the nine tracks.
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The original album, also known as the “blue” album because of its cover art, spent eight weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard R&B/Soul albums chart and was the group’s first crossover record, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, thanks to a pair of very different hit singles: the uptempo “Brick House” and the sensuous Lionel Richie ballad, “Easy.”
“Easy,” the first single released from the album, reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B (known then as the Hot Soul Singles) chart and No. 4 on the Hot 100, and paved the way for Richie’s pop emergence. The song was an international hit, reaching the Top 10 in the U.K. and New Zealand and the Top 20 in Ireland and Canada.
“Brick House,” featuring the distinctive funky vocals of drummer Walter “Clyde” Orange and Ronald LaPread’s heavy-bottom bass line, which formed the foundation of the song, went to No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. A group composition, its lyrics – celebrating a woman’s looks and her confidence in them – were written by Shirley Hanna-King, wife of the band’s trumpet player William “WAK” King, who initially claimed authorship before he admitted the truth.
Also featured on the LP is “Zoom,” a collaboration between Richie and LaPread. Although never officially released as a single, “Zoom” became one of the Commodores’, and Richie’s, best-known tunes. In the U.K., in fact, the LP was titled Zoom.
The Commodores were originally formed from two groups, the Mystics and the Jays, in 1968 at Tuskegee Institute, where the band members were students, signing with Motown in 1971.
Songs from Commodores have enjoyed a long life in the guise of covers and samples. Fergie sampled “Zoom” on her song “All That I Got (The Make-Up Song),” from her album The Dutchess. It has also been sampled by Snoop Dogg on “Pimpin’ Aint EZ,” a 2009 collaboration with R. Kelly from his album Malice N’ Wonderland); E-40 (from its 1998 album The Element of Surprise), Tricky (“Tricky Kid” from his 1996 album, Pre-Millennium Tension) and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (“Everytime” from their 2010 album, Uni5: The World’s Enemy).
Faith No More recorded a cover of “Easy” during the studio sessions for its 1992 album Angel Dust, following its repeated performances during their live shows, and it became an international hit in several countries, including Australia, where it went to No. 1, Norway, the U.K., Finland, Belgium, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland and Netherlands. The song was sampled by rap group Geto Boys for “Six Feet Deep” from their 1993 album, Til Death Do Us Part and by Cam’ron for his song, “Hey Ma.”
“Brick House” was the sampled foundation for the title cut of Foxy Brown’s hit LP, Ill Na Na, while the original was featured in the 1995 film Houseguest, the 1999 film Muppets From Space and the 2002 feature Undercover Brother. Prince’s ex-wife Mayte released a rap version of the song, “House of Brick,” on NPG Records in 1995, with Prince himself singing the chorus and verses. That same year, Dread Zeppelin covered the song as “Brick House (of the Holy)” on its Led Zeppelin-esque album No Quarter Pounder, while Rob Zombie, collaborating with Lionel Richie and Trina, did a version on his House of 1000 Corpses soundtrack in 2003.