Sunday, 21 October 2018
Chic - Chic (1977)
Released November 1977
Recorded at The Power Station, New York City
1. Dance Dance Dance (Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah)
2. Everybody Dance
3. Sao Paulo
4. You Can Get By
5. Est-Ce-Que C'est Chic
6. Falling In Love With You
7. Strike Up The Band
Chic are now afforded huge respect as one of the finest exponents of seventies disco/funk groove. Everybody rates the Nile Rodgers/Bernard Edwards production and Rodgers’ distinctive guitar sound. Funnily enough, however, at the time, this album, with its extended eight minute workouts was not particularly critically acclaimed. Many still preferred their disco music to come in short, three minute attacks, with poppy lyrics and singalong choruses. Chic’s material was a mix of lengthy instrumental grooves and minimalist lyrics - exemplified on the opening track of this album, “Dance Dance Dance (Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah)” (an edited version of which was a hit single). Thankfully, it was a hit, and Nile Rodgers’ wonderful guitar sound had been introduced to the world. Slowly, lots of disco acts would sound like this - Shalamar for one, and of course those acts for who Rodgers produced hits - Sister Sledge and Diana Ross being the notable ones. Many mainstream acts were influenced by this sound too - David Bowie with his “Let’s Dance” album, Queen and Madonna to name a few.
Some critics found Chic somewhat faceless. Nobody quite knew who they were. They didn’t have recognisable personalities and they didn’t play up to it, either. Strangely in their gigs these days, it is all about Rodgers, but back then he kept well in the background. This facelessness is not helped by the fact that the two girls on the cover were models as opposed to the female singers in the group. I, like most people at the time, assumed they were the singers.
The infectious, exhilarating “Everybody Dance” was the other big hit from the album and tracks like “Sao Paulo” featured a sort of bossa nova, jazzy groove with that disco orchestration so typical of the late seventies. It has a delicious bass line too. “You Can Get By” is a delicious piece of smooth disco soul, with some soulful male vocals from Bernard Edwards in a sort of deep Sly Stone style. That Rodgers riff underpins the whole thing, of course. It is just sumptuous late night music. Rich, warm and subtly bassy. Check out that bass solo in “Everybody Dance” too.
“Est-Ce Que C’est Chic” has the by now trademark rumbling bass line and a floaty female vocal. “Falling In Love With You” sees the disco beat take a rest for a while and Chic go all Diana Ross for a typical mid-late seventies sweet soul ballad. “Strike Up The Band” is a Parliament-esque funky closer, with a thumping funky beat and yet more great bass. This was a highly influential album, whose reputation has grown with the passing of time.