Picks and Pans Review: United

updated 12/01/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/01/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

The Commodores

It would take any group a long time to get over losing someone like Lionel Richie, that smoothest of the old smoothies (or middle-age smoothies, anyway). The Commodores showed their resilience, however, with a 1985 Grammy for Nightshift, and otherwise seem to be muddling through. This release may be their best-rounded record since L.R. left. Despite Can't Dance All Night, another tune that sounds a little too close to Richie's All Night Long, and the tediously droning/ Wanna Rock You, there's a varied mix of hot and sweet soul. Goin' to the Bank could be coupled with Gwen Guthrie's Ain't Nothin' Goin' on but the Rent in a kind of fiscal funk medley, and love song lovers will like Serious Love, written by the group's Clyde Orange with backup singer Harold Hudson and Van Ross Redding. Bill Champlin appears among the supporting vocal cast (Chicago meets the Commodores?). Even if it had nothing else to recommend it, the album also carries one of the best liner note acknowledgments of the year, a thank you from Commodore William King to his grandmother Augusta King, "who is 81 and still loves me (amazing) and thanks for making me the wonderful person that I am." (Polydor)

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