The Fancy One | Westchester County, NY | 08/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"CAUGHT IN THE ACT is my all time favorite Commodores album, and in my opinion, their VERY BEST. I was fortunate to find it on CD after owning the vinyl for years, and I felt like I had hit the lottery!!! I would love to see this album once again reissued on CD, this time digitally remastered to be enjoyed the way it should be. You probably would not believe this is something out of mid-'70s Motown or anything Lionel Richie was once associated with, because it BURNS LIKE FIRE with a perfect blend of funk, R&B and rock. This was only their second album, but I don't think anything the guys made afterwards came as lowdown and as gritty as this. That's a tough judgement call, because if you are really familiar with the Commodores' work, you'll know that they had some of the PHATTEST jams that came out of Motown back in the day! Motown was smart to let these guys write and produce themselves from here on out, because the MACHINE GUN album, as good as it was, still made the attempt to outfit the Commodores with the "Motown Sound" on several tracks - not a wise move, and definitely not one they wanted. Their biggest successes on that album came from tunes they composed and produced.
You'll want to play CAUGHT IN THE ACT over and over, because it's like you hear something new each time you listen. Sometimes it reminds you of an Ohio Players album, then an Earth, Wind and Fire LP, even some Sly and the Family Stone thrown in there - yet it is still uniquely the sound of the Commodores. Like MACHINE GUN before it, a killer horn section, a thumping bass, intricate drum patterns and multiple synthesizers dominate the sounds on this album. It sizzles from start to finish, kicking off with the infectious funk groove of "Wide Open" (William King and Walter "Clyde" Orange sharing the vocals) and going into the fellas' first #1 R&B single, "Slippery When Wet". Written by band guitarist Thomas McClary, Lionel Richie's vocals are dripping with soul and some of his most animated stylings ever heard on record (or CD) are present on this song, with him "oww"-ing, "whoo"-ing, grunting and yelping all over the place! (The white group Wild Cherry ripped off this tune with a Richie-soundalike on lead and redid it as "Play That Funky Music (White Boy)", which was a #1 hit on both the pop and R&B charts later that year.) "The Bump", which first appeared on the MACHINE GUN album, comes back again in an edited version, but that still doesn't stop the groove. "I'm Ready", a Milan Williams instrumental composition, is basically "The Bump"-redux, but it has its own strengths. One of the very first epic Richie funk ballads appear on this album: the soaring "This Is Your Life", an R&B Top 20 hit single in 1975. Very Earth, Wind and Fire-ish, it clocks in at nearly six minutes and it builds and escalates into almost a gospel-like singalong as it nears the end.
"Let's Do It Right" is a cool Richie homage to Sly and the Family Stone...Lionel does his best Sly impersonation, with Clyde providing his vocals at the bridge of the song. "Better Never Than Forever" flips the script on romance - a song that basically says that the world is screwed up, so why even bother with trying to plan for a future with someone you love ("better never than forever, baby - livin' in a world that's so untogether")? Deep! It's probably the most sedate of the songs on this album, but Richie and Clyde's vocals take it to another level. Bassist Ronald LaPread's excellent "Look What You've Done To Me" rocks ominously hard, with sharp, synopated staccato drum beats, blaring horns, traditional blues lyrics and a screeching guitar. Richie wails over the music like he's TRULY in pain! The cool and seductive "You Don't Know That I Know", a collaboration between Thomas, Milan and Richie, sounds very much like the Ohio Players' better-known hit "I Want To Be Free". No doubt the Players got their idea for "Free" from this song, since "You Don't Know" came out much earlier. You have Richie and Clyde crooning with real passion - really smoldering stuff, with plenty of "oows", "uhs", "wells", and whispering going on with the singing during this tune's breakdown. I believe that's Thomas doing the love rap on the song...ladies, you will absolutely melt when you hear his voice. Umm-hmmm!!! Obviously this song was geared towards their female fans. :-) The steady groove of "Wide Open" reappears as the reprise, closing the album out...a perfect end to a perfect album.
CAUGHT IN THE ACT is the Commodores at their very best, and definitely a MUST HAVE...they were one of the greatest funk bands EVER! It makes me a little sad to know what happened once they crossed over, because music like this was proof of just how powerful an aggregation they were. But at the time this was recorded, none of this was a concern. They were a bad-a** funk band - and happy to be just that. If you only know their material like "Three Times A Lady" and "Sail On" I URGE you to hunt this album down and make a worthwhile investment."
Best Best Best Commodores
peter tucci | NYC | 04/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Without a doubt, this is the best Commodores album.It is more mature and confident than their debut,MachineGun(although it does reissue the song The Bump in an edited form).This album has just enough grit.It's got that balance between energy,soul and polish,but not quite as produced as (another great commodores album)Hot On The Tracks, so it feels more genuine."
Andre' S Grindle | Bangor,ME. | 07/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My favortie personel Commodores album is 'Hot On The Tracks',whitch offers up the most consistant example of their funk,soul and ballad sides.But THIS is part of their funk pinnacle!Filled with the same keyboard/horn-packed funk grooves as the debut such as "Wide Open",the classic "Slippery When Wet" and a reprisal of "The Bump" this album also contains the groups first ballad "This Is Your Love"-sounding alot like EWF's classic "Devotion' of the same vintage.It's probably the finest slow jams they've ever done!The fonk permeates the rest of the set and with Rick James still a good three years away it was a groove Motown desperately needed to remain a part of!"
Let's fly... For REAL!
Terrence D. Hillman | Colorado, USA | 05/29/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I understand if you want this CD in your hands with the covers and everything for your collection, but otherwise, there is a digital download available now. I got mine from RealPlayer, saved some money and still own the music I love. This one's rare on CD, but not $200 dollars rare, at least not anymore! Hope this review helps you get this album on CD for less if you haven't already. Later"