Risque – Chic (1979)

chic

With Disco at it’s peak in the late 70’s Chic would be at the forefront of the phenomenom gripping the airwaves during this time. It would be shortly after the album that “Disco Sucks” took hold in America and seemingly ended the success that groups such as Chic were having.

I don’t really believe it was just because of “Disco Sucks” that saw the decline as the 1980’s simply took over and soul and jazz funk just evolved into something else as most music forms tend to do.

Chic release their third album “Risque” in 1979 with Nile Rodgers & Bernard Edwards finding the magic formular once again on what I consider their best album.

The opening track is one of the most famous disco songs of all time “Good Times”. That rift has been sampled many times and non more so prominent than on one of the first rap songs ever “Rappers Delight” by the Sugar Hill Gang. My other association with this track is “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen which for me has always been an interpolation of “Good Times”.

The song is positive in it’s message and the first lyric in the verse is

“Happy Days are here again”

The bassline is one of the best in funk music with Bernard Edwards again showing his remarkable skill and the connection between his bass playing and Rodgers iconic guitar rifts is a marriage made in heaven.

“A Warm Summers Night” is like a mixture of two songs from the previous album “Savior Faire” and “At Last I’m Free”. The issue with this track is that it is too long and at 6 minutes you are pretty much waiting for it to end. This is not to say it is a bad song because it’s not and I love the smooth jazzy groove that we have included but I would have cut it by at least two minutes because the important facets of the track are already completed by this point.

On track 3 we are given a song that I would be quite happy if it never ended. “My Feet Keep Dancing” was a hit for Chic but not as known as the other big songs that were released but there is no doubt that this is one of the greatest tracks produced by the band.

The production on this song with the strings and the bassline just merge together to create a sound that just makes me get lost in a world of funkiness. The theme of the song is similar to “Dance Dance Dance” in that dancing is the form of escape and that music is the drive in life despite it being something that people may seem as unimportant or frivolous.

I love the instrumentation in this song as well as the easy to remember hooks that escape out from every orifice of this wonderful track. From the drums to the relentless guitar rift from Rodgers makes this song one of the best on the album.

“My Forbidden Lover” continues the quality. This again shows some of the best that Chic has to offer. Being called a ‘disco’ band is a little unfair as for me Chic are a straight up Jazz/Funk/Soul bad. The way the groove is put together is intricate and well thought out.

What is interesting about Chic tracks is that they have two female singers singing in unison and not as a duet. There is no lead singer so therefore the whole thing always sounds choir like and this is a perfect example. An unbelievably great song.

“Can’t Stand To Lose You” is different to any of the songs on this set. Musically it’s mid tempo but still a foot stomper. Lyrically the theme is a relationship where one person would prefer to not be with the other but the love they have for the other is too strong to let go. It is at the point that they can’t stand to love the other person and that line I like because it shows the conflict within relationships that even when the other person is someone you don’t really like the feeling of love is a glue that keeps you together.

“Will You Cry (When You Hear This Song)” is one of the most dramatic ballads you are likely to hear and that not from the singing or even the title of the song but the music itself. I love the singing on this song as Alfa Anderson sings at the forefront with a quite stunning performance. Despite my life for the vocals I could happily listen to this song as an instrumental. I will go as far to say that this is most beautiful piece of music Edwards and Rodgers ever created. Sadly I have never heard Chic do this this live and it is something I do hope i’ll hear one say.

This song evokes emotion just from it’s instrumentation and that is a powerful thing. Give it a listen and get swallowed up by this powerful piece of music.

To finish the album we have the upbeat and fun “What About Me”. It has such a familar Chic sound that so many funk and soul groups have been trying to imitate over the years.

I love the lyrics in this one:

Now you got yours what about me
I gave my love don’t you see
Now you got yours what about me
I gave my love don’t you see

Many of the themes on this album talk about the pain of being in a relationship and dealing with partners that are difficult and even unfaithful. A song like this is asking the question about what to do with this love that still remains. No matter what someone does on you the concept of falling out of love in an instant is just a fallacy.

This song is such a great tune which again would work on it’s own as an instrumental in what is yet another wonderfully constructed piece of music from Chic.

This album stands up against any Rock album in it’s musical skill and songwriting. There are hits, there are dance songs, there are ballads, there is funk, there is soul – There is Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers.

“Risque” is the defence for Disco.

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