10 essential Chic productions… The establishment of an identity happened to be the ultimate key word by the end of the 70’s. Be it visually with trends applying to social if not political categories, such as brilliantly illustrated on ‘Car Wash’. As musically with the arrival of producers settin’ up a distinctive sound.
From Jacques Fred Petrus & Mauro Malavasi who helped putting Change and in the meantime Luther Vandross to the forefront. To Willie Lester & Rodney Brown who crafted Sharon Redd, Bobby Thurston and Gayle Adams‘s jams. But also Quincy Jones who turned the (Brothers Johnson and (even more) Michael Jackson) into hit machines. Not to mention Tommy LiPuma with whom George Benson scored his biggest successes ever. With the same applying to Chaka Khan when she came to join forces with Arif Mardin… As many names who most likely paved the way for the modern sound. With Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards aka Chic, makin’ no exception.
Ironically, nothing could predict Chic would make such an impact in the Disco scene at the time. With Rodgers and Edwards obviously more into Rock vibes when they first met. As a matter of fact, “the twosome regarded Chic as a Rock band for a multicultural Disco movement that made good on hippie peace, love and freedom”, wrote Robert Christgau on nytimes in December 2011. And God knows how they happened to Rock. And this from their very first release – ‘Everybody Dance’ – back in 1977.
Chic wasn’t only Rodgers and Edwards though. They recruited drummer Tony Thompson and keyboardist Raymond Jones. But also singers Norma Jean Wright (eventually producing her album) and Luci Martin. Not to mention Kenny Lehman who eventually co-produced ‘Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)’. And, last but not least, recording engineer Bob Clearmountain.
From then, the following years saw them delivering an impressive string of hits. From ‘Le Freak’ to the influential ‘Good Times’ and ‘I Want Your Love’ under their own banner. And they would also happen do the same as producers for artists such as Norma Jean Wright and Sister Sledge to name a few.
Chic had a break for a few years after a dispute between Rodgers and Edwards. This bringing them to work separately for some time. With Rodgers producing Madonna and David Bowie. And Edwards eventually sharing the duties with Thompson, Robert Palmer and Duran Duran members Andy Taylor and Simon Le Bon as The Power Station.
Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards would reunite in the early 90’s though. Delivering their ultimate studio album – ‘Chic-ism’ back in 1992. An album featuring the quite underrated ‘Your Love’ which saw them flirting with House Music. And eventually gave me the opportunity to meet them for an interview in Paris.
Therefore, and as always, a selection is per definition limited. Nevertheless, you should find thereafter a selection pretty much illustrative of what the Chic sound has been about.
Wishing you’ll enjoy the ride as much as we did, while putting it together for you. With your feedback, and eventually a mention of your favorite song more than welcome…
Always exploring new territories, David Bowie collaborated with Nile Rodgers to produce his album of the likes back in 1983. This happened at the time when the latter and Edwards had parted ways after a dispute. While in a recording session of the title track, the bassist couldn’t do the job. Nile said to Bowie: “Let me show you what Chic can do!”. He then called Bernard whose studio was in the same building. The latter came and did his thing in one take, although he didn’t get officially credited for that. Rodgers also co-produced the memorable ‘China Girl’ from the same package.
On the heels of the ‘Let’s Dance’ album which he co-produced with David Bowie, Nile Rodgers went on to team up with Madonna the year after. Along with Tony Thompson on drums and Bernard Edwards (on bass), he among others crafted the memorable ‘Like A Virgin’, the title cut of her second album. But also ‘Material Girl’, quite illustrative of Edwards‘s play as a member of The Power Station…