A bright, shining example of what mass-produced, intelligent dance music should be.
Daryl Easlea 2010-04-12
Chic were a cut above, dressed in suits, and run like a business (the Chic Organization Ltd). They married the voices of Alfa Anderson and Luci Martin with the chorus vocals of Luther Vandross and David Lasley with their watertight grooves. And C'est Chic is one of the best albums of the 70s. That it was labelled disco is something of a red herring: this was just the fortune/misfortune of timing. The genre made Chic more popular than their wildest dreams, yet cast them into the wilderness abruptly when it fell from fashion.
This disco didn't suck. Cool to the point of glacial, rhythmic to the point of metronomic, C’est Chic was one of the last great dance records before the machines took over. Leaders Bernard Edwards (bass) and Nile Rodgers (guitar) had been leading double lives for the previous few years, acting as disco session sidemen while playing in blues-rocking new-wave combos at night with their drummer Tony Thompson. They knew how to play and to put on a show – which is what C'est Chic is. It starts with its overture – Chic Cheer – and takes us all the way through to its jiving, comic closer, (Funny) Bone.
For many, the album will always be about Le Freak. It remains the biggest-selling single in Atlantic's history. Next time you’re throwing a shape to it a family do, just listen to its craft. But the shimmering gem is the propulsive, muted funk of I Want Your Love. In its full 6:45 mix, it is arguably the Chic Organization Ltd's greatest work; when it breaks to the guitar, chased by the horns and then the strings, the group create something truly mesmeric. Add in Rodgers' recollection of a Black Panther rally turned into a love ballad by Edwards, At Last I Am Free, and the joyous Happy Man and you're quite content to hum along to the relative filler of Savoir Faire.
C'est Chic isn't even Chic's best album (that was their next one, Risqué) but it is a bright, shining example of what mass-produced, intelligent dance music should be. Thirty-two years old at the time of writing, it remains irresistible.