For three decades, the Commodores have remained a force in the music industry. “The Legends of Motown”, “Hit, After Hit, After Hit”, “Grammy Award Winners”,“All The Emotion, All the Excitement”, “If You Haven’t Seen Them Live,You Haven’t Heard The Commodores”.
The Commodores aren’t just any group. They have staying power. Just like their hit song "Brick House," the Commodores have created a foundation that just won’t budge.
After churning out hit after hit in the Motown days, the Commodores still hadn’t achieved Grammy recognition. This wasn’t to be until 1986, without Lionel Richie, when the Commodores released“Night Shift”.
In1968 the group was formed while all the members were in college at Tuskegee Institute. After being discovered by Berry Gordy, the Commodores went on to sell over 60 million records for Motown. With hits like “Machine Gun”and “Sail On”, the Commodores became proven artists. They proved it then. They proved it in 1986 with “Night Shift”, and now they are ready to prove it again.
Unlike many other groups, the Commodores haven’t rested on their early hits. Quite the contrary, the Commodores have continued to put out quality work. With the creation of their new label, the Commodores released Commodores Hits Vol.1, Commodores Hits Vol. II, Commodores Christmas, and Commodores XX-No Tricks. The newest CD“Commodores Live”was recorded during the groups 1997 U.S. tour and released in December 1998 along with the TV special of the same name. The Commodores believe in their work, but they are not the only ones:
“Seventies phenoms return with a self produced album filled with some great music. The Commodores look set for a fantastic return.”
...BRE Music Report
“Venerable pop/R&B band issues its first single in five years engaging vocals woo with warmth and restraint.”
The successful Commodores of the present have not only produced six new albums, and embarked upon a world-wide tour, but have created their own record label, Commodores Records and Entertainment. Today the Commodores stand not only as talented and successful musicians, but as artists determined to continue their success into the future.
The Commodores want you to know that their friend and comrade, Lionel Richie, left the band nineteen years ago in 1983. They want you to know that the Commodores, despite a string of monster hits and massive tours in the late ’70s and early 80’s, won their first Grammy Award for the multi-platinum smash single and LP “Night Shift”in 1986. Most of all, they want you to know that the Commodores are alive and well in the new millennium, with their own label, and six new albums in stores.
From the beginning at Tuskegee Institute in 1968, the Commodores were known as ‘smart guys’. But they were funky, too. Smart and funky enough to open for the Jackson 5, to be discovered by Berry Gordy in the process, and to sell more than 60 million records for Motown. They were its largest selling act for two decades, the 70’s and 80’s. The Commodores racked up a string of hits including “Machine Gun”, “BrickHouse”, “Easy”, “Three Times A Lady”, “Sail On”, “Oh No”, “Slippery When Wet”, “To Hot Ta Trot”, and many others that literally moved an entire generation. Success, however, was not enough to save them from the changes in the music scene, or most especially, the music business. The departure in 1983 of Lionel Richie, co-lead vocalist along with Walter “Clyde” Orange, might have sunk a lesser group. The Commodores continued onward, and entered the studio to begin recording “Commodores 13”.
In1984, before recording “Night Shift”, the Commodores decided to re-establish the co-lead vocal formula that had catapulted them to the top of the R&B and Pop Charts in the past. After interviewing over fifty candidates, the Commodores chose British born singer J.D. Nicholas. J.D. was a co-lead vocalist for the band "Heat Wave" who had such hits as "Boogie Nights" and "Always and Forever," and were the Commodores opening act on a previous U.S. tour. The match was perfect. The success of “Night Shift” proved it.
Rounded out by the world renowned rhythm section the “Mean Machine”, the Commodores hit the road in support of their new record. The stars had sold out shows with both new and old fans on their feet, singing and dancing to new Commodores songs and classic hits. The Commodores had silenced the critics and climbed to the top of the pop charts once again.
After the release of “Night Shift”, the term of the Commodores recording agreement with Motown came to an end and the band entertained offers from every major record label in the business. The best offer came from Polydor, which was in the process of forming it’s own Black Music department. After2 fruitless LPs in the late ’80s, and a growing confusion and lack of direction at the label, the Commodores asked for and received a release from their obligations to Polydor.
The old saying, “Things happen for a reason”, was especially true for the Commodores during the period that followed the departure from Polydor. Their change in status to an ‘unsigned’ group focused their attention and talents. Together with their manager David Fish, the Commodores set about taking control of their career in an unprecedented fashion.
The first step was to regain control of their material. Motown's refusal to grant master use licenses to the Commodores for their planed greatest hits records turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
Inflate 1991, the Commodores, Walter “Clyde” Orange, William “Wak” King, and James Dean “J.D.” Nicholas, began the mammoth undertaking of creating all new digital recordings of the Commodores classic hits. Using the best digital recording technology available, the first step in assuming total control of their future was accomplished.
Recording sessions from late ’91 through ’92 produced enough material for four new albums. The first is a two disc, separate volume set entitled “Commodores Hits Vol. I” and “Commodores Hits Vol. II”. This will be the first truly comprehensive hits package available on the Commodores in that it will include all the band’s highest charting singles in chronological order from their early days through “Night Shift” and the Polydor period. The new digital recordings of such classics as “Three Times A Lady”, “Still”,“Lady (You Bring Me Up)”, and many others sound impressively like the original cuts with J.D. and Clyde alternating on vocals.
Anlp worth of Christmas material entitled “Commodores Christmas”,filled with covers of traditional Yuletide songs and soon-to-be-classic original songs for the season, was also completed during the extensive recording sessions. But perhaps most importantly, the sessions resulted in an album of all-new material entitled “Commodores XX - No Tricks”, which is the bands twentieth studio album. It includes a new musical and vocal arrangement of the smash hit “Brick House” entitled “Brick House ’93”.
With four records ‘in the can’, there was only one thing missing - a label. Rather than relinquish control of their careers to the ‘one hit wonder’ major label and distribution system of today where priorities change hourly,and perhaps suffer the same fate that befell the band at Polydor, the Commodores decided to form their own record company. Announced in August of 1992, Commodores Records and Entertainment came into being. It was the final step in maintaining full and total control over their music and career that the band had desired for some time.
Signing a series of domestic and international publishing, licensing, and distribution agreements through the new Company, the Commodores released “Commodores Hits Vol. I”, “Commodores Hits Vol. II”,“Commodores Christmas”, and “Commodores XX - No Tricks”.
The group recorded and filmed during their 1997 U.S. tour. The resulting efforts have produced “Commodores Live” CD and TV special which was released in December of 1998 in CD, VHS & DVD formats. Also in December of ’98 the Commodores released their first ever CD single“Brickhouse Cuts”, featuring the live version, a hip-hop flavored dance track and the radio version of the classic hit twenty years after it first charted.
The Commodores are currently working on new material for their next studio CD.
With the new discs, new tour, and a new label, the Commodores have maintained their place among the most successful entertainers in the world. Their new careers as entrepreneurs, as well as performers bring the boys from Tuskegee full circle. Bringing the talent and experience of three decades of writing, producing, and performing hit music to a whole new generation of fans, the Commodores are proving once again that their future is as bright as their past.