Before the Commodores started having major adult contemporary hits like "Three Times a Lady," "Easy," and "Still," they were happy to be a full-time funk/soul band. The Southerners became increasingly pop-minded in the late '70s, but when their debut album, Machine Gun, came out in 1974, their music was unapologetically gritty. This was, without question, a very promising debut -- Lionel Richie and his allies really hit the ground running on sweaty funk items like "Young Girls Are My Weakness," "The Bump," "Gonna Blow Your Mind," and the single "I Feel Sanctified." These songs aren't funk-pop or sophisticated funk -- they're hardcore funk. What you won't find on Machine Gun are a lot of sentimental love ballads. In the late '70s, the Commodores became as famous for their ballads as they were for their funk and dance material, but believe it or not, there are no ballads to be found on this consistently funky, mostly up-tempo debut. As much as this LP has going for it, Machine Gun isn't the Commodores' best or most essential album. Machine Gun is rewarding, but their subsequent albums Caught in the Act (1975), Movin' On (1975), and Hot on the Tracks (1976) are even stronger.