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Chic

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Biography

There is no doubt that Chic was disco's greatest band. Working in a heavily producer-dominated field, they were most definitely a band. By the time Chic appeared in the late '70s, disco was already heading toward mainstream saturation and an inevitable downfall. Chic bucked the trend by stripping disco's sound down to its basic elements. Specializing in stylish grooves with a uniquely organic sense of interplay, Chic's sound was anchored by the scratchy "chucking"-style rhythm guitar of Nile Rodgers, the indelible, widely imitated, and sometimes outright stolen basslines of Bernard Edwards, and the powerhouse drumming of Tony Thompson. As producers, Rodgers and Edwards used keyboard and string embellishments economically, which kept the emphasis on rhythm. Chic's distinctive approach not only resulted in some of the era's finest singles, including the number one hits "Le Freak" and "Good Times" -- only two of several classics off the platinum albums C'est Chic (1978) and Risqué (1979) -- but also helped create a template for funk, dance-pop, and hip-hop in the post-disco era. Not coincidentally, Rodgers and Edwards wound up as two of the most successful pop producers, and the sound they developed and perfected remained relevant for decades, acknowledged most notably with the duo's induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Through the 2010s, Rodgers continued to lead Chic as a major live draw and took the act back to the studio for It's About Time (2018). Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards met in 1970, when both were jazz-trained musicians fresh out of high school. Edwards had attended New York's High School for the Performing Arts and was working in a Bronx post office at the time, while Rodgers' early career also included stints in the folk group New World Rising and the Apollo Theater house orchestra. Around 1972, Rodgers and Edwards formed a jazz-rock fusion group called the Big Apple Band. This outfit moonlighted as a backup band, touring behind smooth soul vocal group New York City in the wake of their 1973 hit "I'm Doin' Fine Now." After New York City broke up, the Big Apple Band hit the road with Carol Douglas for a few months, and Rodgers and Edwards decided to make a go of it on their own toward the end of 1976. At first they switched their aspirations from fusion to new wave, briefly performing as Allah & the Knife Wielding Punks, but quickly settled into dance music. They enlisted onetime LaBelle drummer Tony Thompson and vocalists Norma Jean Wright and Alfa Anderson, and changed their name to Chic in summer 1977 so as to avoid confusion with Walter Murphy & the Big Apple Band (who'd just hit big with "A Fifth of Beethoven"). Augmented in the studio by keyboardists Raymond Jones and Rob Sabino, Chic recorded the demo single "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)" and shopped it around to several major record companies, all of which declined it. The small Buddah label finally released it as a 12" in late 1977, and as its club popularity exploded, Atlantic stepped in, signed the group, and re-released the single on a wider basis. "Dance, Dance, Dance" hit the Top Ten, peaking at number six, and made Chic one of the hottest new groups in disco. The band scrambled to put their self-titled first album together, and it spawned a minor follow-up hit, "Everybody Dance," in early 1978. At this point, Wright left to try her hand at a solo career (with assistance from Rodgers and Edwards), and was replaced by Luci Martin. It was a good time to come onboard; "Le Freak," the first single from sophomore album C'est Chic, was an out-of-the-box smash, spending five weeks on top of the charts toward the end of 1978 and selling over four-million copies (which made it the biggest-selling single in Atlantic's history). Follow-up "I Want Your Love" reached number seven, cementing the group's new star status, and C'est Chic became one of the rare disco albums to go platinum. 1979's Risqué was another solidly constructed LP that also went platinum, partly on the strength of Chic's second number one pop hit, "Good Times." "Good Times" may not have equaled the blockbuster sales figures of "Le Freak," but it was the band's most imitated track: Queen's number one hit "Another One Bites the Dust" was a clear rewrite, and the Sugarhill Gang lifted the instrumental backing track wholesale for the first commercial rap single, "Rapper's Delight," marking the first of many times that Chic grooves would be recycled into hip-hop records. Also in 1979, Rodgers and Edwards took on their first major outside production assignment, producing and writing the Sister Sledge smashes "We Are Family" and the oft-sampled "He's the Greatest Dancer." This success, in turn, landed them the chance to work with Diana Ross on 1980's Diana album, and they wrote and produced "Upside Down," her first number one hit in years, as well as "I'm Coming Out." The disco fad was fading rapidly by that point, however, and 1980's Real People failed to go gold despite another solid performance by the band. Changing tastes put an end to Chic's heyday, as Rodgers and Edwards' outside production work soon grew far more lucrative, even despite aborted projects with Aretha Franklin and Johnny Mathis. Several more Chic LPs followed in the early '80s, with diminishing creative and commercial returns, and Rodgers and Edwards disbanded the group after completing Believer in 1983. Later that year, both recorded solo LPs. Hungry for respect in the rock mainstream (especially after accusations that they had ripped off Queen instead of the other way around), both Rodgers and Edwards sought out high-profile production and session work over the rest of the decade. Rodgers produced blockbuster albums like David Bowie's Let's Dance, Madonna's Like a Virgin, and Mick Jagger's She's the Boss. Edwards wasn't as prolific as a producer, but did join the one-off supergroup the Power Station along with Tony Thompson as well as Robert Palmer and members of avowed Chic fans Duran Duran; he later produced Palmer's commercial breakthrough, Riptide. Edwards also worked with Rod Stewart (Out of Order), Jody Watley, and Tina Turner, while Rodgers' other credits include the Thompson Twins, the Vaughan Brothers, INXS, and the B-52's' comeback Cosmic Thing. Rodgers and Edwards re-formed Chic in 1992 with new vocalists Sylver Logan Sharp and Jenn Thomas, and an assortment of session drummers in Thompson's place; they toured and released a new album, Chic-ism. In 1996, the reconstituted Chic embarked on a tour of Japan; sadly, on April 18, Edwards passed away in his Tokyo hotel room due to a severe bout of pneumonia. Rodgers continued to tour occasionally with a version of Chic. In 1999, his Sumthing Else label issued a recording of Edwards' final performance with the band, Live at the Budokan. More importantly, Rodgers compiled The Chic Organization Box Set, Vol. 1: Savoir Faire, a four-disc anthology released in 2010. Rodgers' career was boosted once more, through a string of collaborations with Duran Duran and Daft Punk, among others. He published a memoir, beat cancer, and kept the Chic name alive, primarily as a touring group. In 2018, two years after Rodgers and Edwards were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Rodgers completed and released a long-in-the-works Chic album, It's About Time. ~ Steve Huey
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Top Tracks

  1.   Track
    Popularity
  2.   Good Times
  3.   Le Freak
  4.   I Want Your Love
  5.   Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)
  6.   Everybody Dance
  7.   My Forbidden Lover
  8.   Chic Cheer
  9.   Rebels Are We
  10.   My Feet Keep Dancing
  11.   He's the Greatest Dancer
  12.   Good Times / Rapper's Delight
  13.   Tavern on the Green
  14.   Will You Cry (When You Hear This Song)
  15.   Chic Mystique
  16.   São Paulo
  17.   (Funny) Bone
  18.   Forbidden Lover
  19.   Show Me Your Light
  20.   At Last I Am Free
  21.   You Are Beautiful
  22.   Happy Man
  23.   Real People
  24.   Flash Back
  25.   Le Freak by Aristofreeks
  26.   Back in the Old School
  27.   One More Time
  28.   Easier to Love
  29.   Chic Cheer by Sister Sledge
  30.   Stone Free by Sister Sledge
  31.   Do that Dance by Sister Sledge
  32.   Dance Dance Dance by Sister Sledge
  33.   Jack Le Freak
  34.   Good Times
  35.   Unite
  36.   Meet the Band
  37.   Back in the Old School by Nile Rodgers
  38.   I'll Be There by Nile Rodgers
  39.   Band (Intro)
  40.   Megachic (Medley -Le Freak-Everybody Dance-Good Times-Le Freak-I Want Your Love-LeFreak) (International Mix)
  41.   Chic Cheer, Pt. 2
  42.   Chic Cheer, Pt. 1
  43.   Bernard
  44.   Your Love Is Good
  45.   Saturday
  46.   I'm Thinking About You
  47.   At Last I'm Free
  48.   Got to Love Somebody
  49.   Thinking of You
  50.   He's the Greatest Dancer
  51.   Introduction
  52.   I'm Thinking of You
  53.   I'm Coming Out
  54.   Intro
  55.   Upside Down
  56.   M.M.F.T.C.F.
  57.   High
  58.   Take My Love
  59.   My Love's for Real
  60.   In It to Win It
  61.   Chicism
  62.   Doin' That Thing to Me
  63.   One and Only One
  64.   Something You Can Feel
  65.   Jusagroove
  66.   Your Love
  67.   Last Dance
  68.   Bernard #2
  69.   Backstage
  70.   Stone Free
  71.   Do That Dance
  72.   We Are Family
  73.   Sister Sledge (Intro)
  74.   Band Introduction
  75.   Bernard Introduction
  76.   Strike Up the Band
  77.   Est-Ce Que C'est Chic
  78.   You Can Get By
  79.   Savoir Faire
  80.   I Got Protection
  81.   I Loved You More
  82.   Open Up
  83.   Chip Off the Old Block
  84.   Soup for One
  85.   City Lights
  86.   Sharing Love
  87.   Hey Fool
  88.   Chic (Everybody Say)
  89.   I Feel Your Love Comin' On
  90.   Can't Stand to Love You
  91.   A Warm Summer Night
  92.   Take a Closer Look
  93.   You Got Some Love for Me
  94.   In Love with Music
  95.   Party Everybody
  96.   You Can't Do It Alone
  97.   When You Love Someone
  98.   Give Me the Lovin'
  99.   Hangin'
  100.   What About Me
  101.   Would You Be My Baby
  102.   Your Love Is Cancelled
  103.   Take It Off
  104.   Just Out of Reach
  105.   Telling Lies
  106.   Stage Fright
  107.   So Fine
  108.   We Are Family 2
  109.   Baby Doll
  110.   You're a Friend to Me
  111.   Somebody Loves Me
  112.   Good Times Rapper's Delight by Sister Sledge
  113.   Savior Faire
  114.   26
  115.   Believer
  116.   Falling in Love With You
  117.   Burn Hard
  118.   Sometimes You Win
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