Another major story was the resurgence of Motown, Stax-Volt, and rest of the R & B/soul/funk industry after several years of trying and failing to catch up: Marvin Gaye produced an important concept album that broke all kinds of barriers. Other successful acts included Valerie Simpson, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield (who did well with live and studio albums), and Sly and the Family Stone; James Brown had settled down wih a new band and a minimalistic funk formula.
The lack of major embarassments also was a good sign, but there were a few minor ones. Steve Stills's sophomore solo record was mediocre, as were live albums by the Grateful Dead and Frank Zappa; British heavy rockers the Faces and Humble Pie released shambling, sloppy efforts; the Kinks tossed off a lousy soundtrack; the Isley Brothers and the Ohio Players experimented fruitlessly; the Supremes and Four Tops suddenly seemed washed up, whether working alone or as a team; and the nascent Weather Report was a long way from perfecting its jazz-fusion formula. (JA)