Le Freak C'Est Chic
October 16, 2003 12:28 AM   Subscribe

Since finding that Tongue In Chic was on CD at last, of late I've thought of the rhythm section nonpareil, Chic, with that welded groove between Nile Rodgers's guitar and Bernard Edwards's bass. As performers and producers--applying the patented Chic sound to an encyclopedia of superstars--what Chic played was a tight and transcendent penthouse funk. Now I find that Nile Rodgers has a homepage, too. The Links pages one and all are motherlodes of Chic-ism, let it be noted. Ah-h-h, Freak Out!
posted by y2karl (19 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Great post! Nile Rodgers is also the founder of the We Are Family Foundation that created the post-Sept. 11 "We Are Family" song and documentary, and continues the work of "promoting our common humanity and the vision of a global family".
posted by taz at 1:35 AM on October 16, 2003

rhythm section nonpareil

HA! I'll see your Chic & raise you a Sly & Robbie.

If nothing else, you kids'll know Pull Up to the Bumper
posted by i_cola at 3:12 AM on October 16, 2003

Karl, I've been bumpin' "Stage Fright" for the last couple of weeks! Great post!
posted by black8 at 3:30 AM on October 16, 2003

Odd. When I was a teenager, i scorned music such as this, because it was "disco" and I liked punk. Now, I still like punk, but I also find myself enjoying this stuff - and even saying things like "Abba were quite good, really".

Does that mean, I'm mellowing as I age, prejudices are falling away, and I have the cofidence to appreciate excellence without worrying about peer pressure. Or does it mean that I'm one step away from senile dementia, and walking around smelling of pee, telling young people in the streets that compulsory national military service would do them good.

The latter, I suspect.
posted by Pericles at 3:59 AM on October 16, 2003

If anybody gets too nostalgic about that "great old '70s dance music", slap them silly with a reminder of the Best New Artists of 1978. I wonder whatever happened to the losers in that category that year...
posted by wendell at 4:23 AM on October 16, 2003

Pericles, try two great sounds that sound great together - funk-punk/disco-punk.

I always like the story of the creation of 'Freak Out'. The, now synonymous with disco, country and western style rhythm guitar was 'a joke at the time'. Freaky.

'The best illustration of their close relationship is the tale of how they came to write Le Freak. Then relatively obscure, the group had been turned away from the chicer-than-chic Studio 54, despite an invitation from Grace Jones. They left, but not without a struggle, went back to Richards's house and started jamming to the refrain, "Ahhhhhhh, Fuck off!" "We were just having a laugh, but Bernard turned to me and said, 'Hey, brother, you know this shit is happening!'" Fuck off became "Freak off", then "Freak Out" and the rest is dancefloor history.'

I feel I must suggest that one should not confuse Abba, a derivative pop band from Scandinavia, with disco artists. Abba didn't bring anything to the table that I am aware of.
posted by asok at 4:52 AM on October 16, 2003

Right now there's a new reissue of Diana Ross's "Diana" album, which was written and played by the Chic team. ("Upside Down," "I'm Coming Out," etc.) The original release of the album was a version that took Chic's productions and remixed them to be more radio-friendly. The reissue includes both the original release AND Chic's version -- the differences aren't huge, but the Chic version sounds more, well, Chicy.
posted by lisa g at 6:43 AM on October 16, 2003

Pericles: it's scary, but true.

And though many people don't want to admit Abba's genius, they are indeed one of the greatest pop phenomenons ever. 'Name Of The Game', 'Knowing Me, Knowing You', 'Take A Chance On Me' & 'Angel Eyes' are amongst the greatest 3 minute stories ever - definitely the equal of most of Spector's oeuvre.

I hated them at the time.
posted by dash_slot- at 7:13 AM on October 16, 2003

Well, I can't claim to be a huge fan, but there will always be a place in my heart for them, as their album was the first ever album I owned. I think I got it from McDonalds, actually.

posted by lumpenprole at 7:28 AM on October 16, 2003

BUT... Spectre was shite too. Come on, admit it. It's true.
posted by Pericles at 8:01 AM on October 16, 2003

One good way to hear what Nile Rodgers brings to an album as a producer is to listen to the two David Bowie albums he co-produced: Let's Dance and Black Tie White Noise. (Yes, I know true Bowie fans profess to hate those albums, but come on.)

And if I hadn't already outed myself as a connossieur of '80s pop ephemera, I'll point out that his horn arrangements on Duran Duran's album Notorious are excellent.
posted by Prospero at 8:09 AM on October 16, 2003

HA! I'll see your Chic & raise you a Sly & Robbie.

Oh, Sly and Robbie are up there, as well--witness the fact that they, too, have the one stop back up band for all the biggest names in search of fairy dust.

Bernard Edwards broke new ground on the electric bass--but his influence has been most inside, musician to musician--as the eulogy above noted, there may well have been no Doug Wimbishes in the context we know them, to drop yet another inside name. Burn Hard from Stage Fright is one dazzling example, as I know Black8 would quite heartily agree.

Their songs had the nicest touches, too--"My Feet Keep Dancing" featured tap dancing by Fayard Nicholas of the Nicholas Brothers and Eugene Jackson of Our Gang.

I have yet to get the Live At Budokan: it was recorded the night Edwards died from the same group A streptococcal pneumonia that got Jim Henson. I saw a review noting that on it, he mentions he's starting to feel a little sick. It's just a little too macabre for me as yet to want to listen to a live album where a man mentions in passing he's starting feel like he's getting the flu and know he died later that same night.
posted by y2karl at 8:53 AM on October 16, 2003

I wonder whatever happened to the losers in that category that year...

They're being sampled to death right now by hot shot hip hop producers, no doubt--Chic come right after James Brown for being the treasure trove of borrowed beats.

Apropo of a recent discussion, I must note that disco was the most multiracial of pop music genres, the one where it could be argued the influences back and forth came closest to equal. Punk was one of the whitest ever. There's a dark side as to why...

I saw the Clash at the Paramount in 1980 and when they, fans that they were, played some rap--oldest of old skool to present day ears--over the PA before the show, some of Seattle's finest wannabe pioneer punks were yelling Turn off that nigger music! Some of that Disco Sucks came from flat out racism.
posted by y2karl at 9:14 AM on October 16, 2003

I wonder whatever happened to the losers in that category that year...

Ahem... Elvis Costello... The Cars... I'm not sure who else, but I remember a reference that every other artist in the Best New Artist category had a longer post-Grammy career than Taste of Honey, the winner that year. I may not be accurate; I was definitely too subtle.
posted by wendell at 10:40 AM on October 16, 2003

Pericles, you hit the nail on the head - including with (how can I admit this in public?) ABBA.

For a loving yet cheeky tribute to the disco asthetic, I refer y'all to one of my all-time favorite albums, Since I Left You by the Avalanches.
posted by soyjoy at 10:47 AM on October 16, 2003

Did it ever occur to you, Wendell, that a page entitled Seventies Dance Music at a site called 70sdisco.com might perhaps have a narrow focus? I'll bet $100 that Elvis Costello's name didn't appear on any list for Best Bluegrass or Country 'n Western Song of 1978 either.

Here are Robert Christgau's picks for 1978. Now there's an all inclusive list--shoot fish in that barrel.. You have surely have won the straw man link--neither accurate nor subtle--for October 16, 2003...
--Truly, this is a day that will go down in doofiniquity!
posted by y2karl at 11:21 AM on October 16, 2003

By the way, in regards to the Disco Sucks! meme--Christgau, in his accompanying year end review to the 1978 Village Voice Pazz & Jop survey, from where his personal list came, made some interesting points on race, punk, new wave and disco.
posted by y2karl at 11:43 AM on October 16, 2003

yeah, but the bee gees really brought on the "disco sucks" bandwagon. and you can't get whiter or more heterosexual than that.
posted by pxe2000 at 11:45 AM on October 16, 2003

From a musician's perspective, Nile and Nard can be a treat to listen to. Their casual, crafty interaction showed me early on the rewards of listening to what others in a group are doing (versus square-pegging multiple individual statements). Not that traditional ensemble playing failed to...Chic's guitars simply brought home the concept in a different and fun way.

Great post on one of my favorite (sometimes unfairly dissed) groups.

soyjoy: Ditto on the Avalanches.
posted by LinusMines at 12:54 PM on October 16, 2003

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