Generally, people think of Lionel Richie as the purveyor of a different kind of smooth…the kind that veers dangerously close to “oily”. 1977’s “Easy” comes from a time when Richie (and the Commodores, the group he was a co-lead singer, pianist and saxophonist for) had not yet crossed over into Lite-FM territory (with songs like “Three Times a Lady” and “Oh No”). It’s mellow, but it’s still funky. It’s got a killer guitar solo, a melody that’s singable without being sappy, and it’s also got kind of a country lilt to it. Folks either forget or aren’t aware, but Lionel (and the rest of the Commodores) formed at Tuskegee Institute. So Lionel Richie, father of socialite Nicole and writer of some of the most wince-inducing pop ballads in history, is a ‘Bama at heart.
I’m willing to venture a guess that this live version of “Easy” was recorded in either 1980 or 1981, right before Lionel left The Commodores. Check out that spaceship that Lionel calls an Afro! Check out those ridiculous glittering jumpsuits!!
Oh…and as a bonus, check out Faith No More’s cover from 1993 (live on Jay Leno)!