Commodores; Earth, Wind, and Fire; Kool & The Gang.... All these bands are known for what they did in the latter half of the 70s (and early 80s perhaps), but I could never stand the sugary disco music of the late 70s and early 80s. But luckily all these bands made some amazing funk music as well in the early 70s, right up until 1975, or so... I can´t stand Nightshift or Three Times A Lady, but the true gems by Commodores can be found on Movin' On, Cebu being my favorite!!!
I really like their sophisti-funk phase... as represented by the Natural High, Midnight Magic and In The Pocket albums. :-p A softer sound that pointed towards the Lionel solo stuff, but not too 'poppy' yet either.