Hump Day Slow Jam of the Week: The Commodores, "Nightshift"

Dec 17, 2008 at 12:00 pm
The Singers: Formed in the late '60s when the members were school mates at the Tuskegee Institute, the Commodores are best known for two things: having fostered a young Lionel Richie, and the funk jam "Brick House". The group's hits were split between "Brick House"-like funk songs ("Machine Gun" and "Lady (You Bring Me Up)" ) and Richie-penned soul ballads, like "Still" and the eternal "Easy." Today's slow jam, however, comes from 1985, after Richie had left the group for worldwide fame as a solo artist. Ironically, it would win the band its only Grammy award.
The Song: Written as a tribute to departed soul singers Jackie Wilson and Marvin Gaye (both men had died in 1984), "Nightshift" remains an affecting song almost 25 years later. The plucked, syncopated guitar and light percussion give the song its rhythm, and the tasteful, buoyant bass acts as the adhesive. Soul fans can have fun picking out the references to each singers' hits in the lyrics ("talk to me so you can see what's going on").

The Video: Since the original video is un-embeddable, we went with this live version, though the differences are minor. Dig the pleather suits, though.

Hipster Cachet: Any outfit that spawned Lionel Richie is worth the attention of the hipster masses, but any outfit that wore outfits like this deserves special consideration.

-- Christian Schaeffer