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Chic (music band)

Risque (1979) - Chic [Amazon.com]

Risque is disco for the dance crowd and musicians alike. So many were influenced by this album, and it is evident by all the bands that called on the production of the Chic rhythm section. Of course, everyone knows Rapper's Delight was founded on a sample of the song Good Times, but not so well known were the many collaborations: Sister Sledge, Diana Ross, David Bowie, Madonna, Duran Duran (Notorious), Power Station, Missing Persons... the list goes on and on, and all of the work turned to gold in record sales and radio play. Nile Rogers also did solo work that was quite different from what he did with Chic... Land Of The Good Groove, B Movie Matinee, and a trio he put together called Outloud. Nile was very much into experimenting with all the new music technology that was so prevalent in the 80's. I think this was a turn-off for for Bernard and Tony, but it did allow Nile to go off on his own without the need for a real bass and drum player. All I can say is do a little research and seek out the work of all the players on the Chic albums. Lot's of great stuff to be heard. --Robert Henning, amazon.com

Chic (music band)

Chic is an American band that was formed in 1976 by guitarist Nile Rodgers, drummer Tony Thompson, and bassist Bernard Edwards. They are best remembered for their disco songs, including "Dance Dance Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)" (1977), "Everybody Dance" (1977), "Le Freak" (1978), "I Want Your Love" (1978), "Good Times" (1979), and "My Forbidden Lover" (1979).

At the same time, Edwards and Rodgers composed, arranged, performed, and produced many influential disco and R&B records for both established artists and one-hit wonders, including Sister Sledge, Sheila and B. Devotion, Diana Ross, and Debbie Harry. Chic also helped introduce the world to a up-and-coming young vocalist named Luther Vandross, who sang on one of Chic's albums.

In the 1980s, the band struggled to obtain airplay and sales and eventually disbanded. Rodgers and Edwards separately produced records for a wide variety of artists. Rodgers was largely responsible for the breakthrough success of Madonna in 1985 with her Like a Virgin album. In the early 1990s, Rodgers and Edwards regrouped and worked on new material. Edwards died in 1996 in Japan, but Chic continued to tour with new musicians. Thompson passed away in 2003.

In addition to defining the disco sound, Chic helped to inspire other artists to forge their own sound. For example, The Sugarhill Gang used "Good Times" as the basis for their hit Rapper's Delight, which helped launch the Rap/Hip-hop music format as we know today. And the group Queen got the inspiration for their hit single Another One Bites The Dust from Chic's familiar bass guitar riffs. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chic [Oct 2004]

Good Times

Chic itself had enough foresight to be a touring band so that the rhythm section -- Nile Rodgers on guitar, Bernard Edwards on bass, and Tony Thompson on drums -- actually got some of the worshipful critical notice that the southern soul rhythm sections who played on Atlantic's R&B records had received a decade earlier. This was a key move in setting the stage for Rodgers' and Edwards' separate and prolific production careers later in the '80s with Madonna, David Bowie, Robert Palmer, and others. "Good Times" was the song that upped their respectability quotient: the record, which inspired both "Rapper's Delight" and "Another One Bites The Dust," belongs in anybody's hall of fame. -- Brian Chin

Good Times

"Good Times" has been cited by critics as one of the most important singles of all time. Bernard Edwards' bass line has been copied and sampled by bands like Queen and rappers Grandmaster Flash.
- Marco Werman
Marco Werman in an interview with Peter Braunstein

Whether you consider this day in recording history one to celebrate or mourn depends, as they say, on where you're coming from. On August 25th, 1979, the quintessential disco band Chic released an album that came to signify the end of the disco era...while containing a song that epitomized the best of the much-maligned style. As The World's Marco Werman tells us, the "good times" that were about to end started long before the "disco decade."

MW: Nile Rodgers and the late bassist Bernard Edwards were a power song writing team with many hits to their name. The biggest one owed its success to an unforgettable bass line and chopping guitar refrain.

This seemingly happy song marked the last days of disco. "Good Times" was a nostalgic look back at the disco decade in which Jimmy Carter ushered in better days after Nixon and Vietnam, when the hedonism of the seventies gave carte blanche to revel in - as the song says - clams on the half shell and roller skates.

According to writer and cultural historian Peter Braunstein "Good Times" was also the cue for darker days ahead.

PB: The music itself has a downbeat, almost poignant quality to it that foreshadows what would happen a couple of years later where that hedonistic ethic would soon be completely annihilated by the sort of neo conservative turn that the nation took starting in 80. And also the AIDS epidemic which just destroyed club life and the disco hedonistic ethic.

MW: "Good Times" has been cited by critics as one of the most important singles of all time. Bernard Edwards' bass line has been copied and sampled by bands like Queen and rappers Grandmaster Flash. Even in the same year "Good Times" was released, the Sugarhill Gang would lift the riff and trigger the birth of the hip-hop nation.

"Good Times" and just about all other disco has been called fluffy, trivial, lacking musical integrity. But it was popular art that served as the banner of the counterculture. It brought together gays, blacks, Latinos, showbiz celebrities and street people. But that revolution and challenge to authority in the 1970's was rooted three decades earlier.

PB: The very origin of disco was during the French resistance during World War Two. Basically an illicit form, it was a music - jazz - that the Nazis in wartime Paris had banned because it related to several things that they didn't want to deal with like Americans, Jewishness, blacks, so they banned it. So it became the official resistance music in clubs. Discotheques started out in this completely illicit environment, they weren't tolerated by the state, and they never lost that underground appeal.

MW: After the war, Paris clubs like the Whiskey A Go Go continued the festivity of the private record library, literally the translation of the French word, "Discotheque". The spirit of the underground disco was marked by the size of the clubs (they were tiny with even smaller dance floors); the subversion (parties were announced via word of mouth); and even the privacy of the clubs was conveyed through the manner in which drinks were consumed, says Peter Braunstein.

PB: People didn't order drinks the way we do, like OK, I'll have a whiskey, OK, I'll have another whiskey. They'd buy an actual bottle of whiskey, it would have their name emblazoned on it, and then they would keep the whiskey in a locker at the bottom room with the midget dance floor. So you would then go back week after week and you'd still be working off this one whiskey bottle.

MW: By the early sixties, New York City had created its own versions of the Paris Discotheques. They slowly grew bigger in size and by the end of the decade, the novelty had worn off, but the hedonism hadn't. As Peter Braunstein explains, the inherent hedonism of sixties disco culture was co-opted by a more creative group of revelers.

PB: This was the era of gay disco culture, underground discos. The most notorious one was right behind the Port Authority Bus Terminal, it was called the Sanctuary. Basically it was scandalous because it was a former church, a Lutheran church that was converted into a gay nightclub. As if that wasn't crazy enough for most people, you had the deejay who actually started to mix. And this club was notorious. You would have people outside at 4 am, piling out into the street.

MW: The glamour of late nights that the gay scene started then got mainstreamed by New York clubs like Studio 54. But some Americans hated it, and a few even went so far as to riot against disco.

PB: "Good Times" came out within a year of the infamous Kaminsky Park riots, the "disco sucks" demolition in which Chicago White Sox fans during an impromptu disco demolition rally between games went nuts and began tearing up the stadium, and they had to cancel the game and it caused a lot of damage. There was sort of a backlash against a lot of the demographics that disco represented, its core audience being gay men, a lot of blacks listened to disco, in fact it represented every other demographic except the traditional white male rock fans, and they were so afraid every time that disco would take up a couple more notches on the charts, they would see it as a personal attack as if their identity was being violated.

MW: Compare the sounds on the dance floor of 1979 with those at disco's roots during the French resistance, and there appears to be little in common. What they did share was a rhythm that moved the counterculture and would-be revolutionaries to while the hours away until they could emerge into the daylight, and act like everybody else.

- Marco Werman

original article offline, copyright Marco Werman

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