On this day in music history: June 6, 1980 – “Heroes”, the eighth album by The Commodores is released. Produced by James Anthony Carmichael and The Commodores, it is recorded at Motown Recording Studios and A&M Recording Studios in Hollywood, CA from February – April 1980. Ending the 70’s on a high note with the album “Midnight Magic”, and back to back smashes “Sail On” and “Still”, The Commodores begin work on their next release in early 1980. Looking to shake things up, the band step away somewhat from the slicker pop driven hit formula of their previous three albums. The most noticeable shift is the emphasis on more message oriented songs with a pronounced gospel bent like “Wake Up Children”, the title track “Heroes” (#27 R&B, #54 Pop), “Mighty Spirit” and “Jesus Is Love” (#34 R&B). Though it barely scrapes the R&B Top 40 and is virtually ignored by pop radio, the Lionel Richie penned The only real taste of The Commodores funk roots on the album surface on the track “Celebrate”. The first single “Old-Fashion Love” (#8 R&B, #20 Pop) is written by Milan Williams, and is the first hit the band’s keyboardist has penned solely since their breakthrough single “Machine Gun” in 1974. The public’s reaction to album is mixed, and though it doesn’t yield a major crossover hit, the momentum from their previous albums pushes “Heroes” past the Platinum mark in the US. Regarded as a transitional release in The Commodores career, many later evaluate it as the bridge from Lionel Richie’s tenure in the band, toward his inevitable departure and launch of his mega successful solo career. Given only a brief release on CD in 1986 (as a 2-fer with their self-titled 1977 album), “Heroes” remains out of print for nearly thirty years in any form. It is finally remastered and reissued by Dutch reissue label PTG Records in 2014. “Heroes” peaks at number three on the Billboard R&B album chart, number seven on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
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