Record of the day: Chic, "Risqué"

Record of the day: Chic, “Risqué”

Risqué (Cd Atlantic 7567-80406-2)

Chic's misfortune was that they had success during the explosion of the Disco phenomenon, making them lumped together by critics with Cerrone, La Bionda and company with whom they found themselves sharing the top of the charts at the time.
Certainly their first album (that of “Yowsa, Yowsa, Yowsa”, so to speak) was a very polished example of high-class super-commercial music, but since the following “C'est chic” (which thanks to the single “Le freak” will catapult them towards global success) attentive listeners could notice a clear reference to the purest matrix of funk and r&b, also paying homage to figures such as Wes Montgomery and Sly Stone.

Bernard Edwards' serpentine bass and Nile Rodgers' groove guitar bounced happily over the drums of Tony Thompson, an instrumentalist of rare skill and rhythmic power. Choirs arranged as wind sections, brilliant or velvety strings
depending on the case, a few discreet keyboards and that was it: the dance floors exploded and Nile and Bernard found themselves for a couple of years being the King Midas of black music.

Even when mass success abandoned them, the two continued to produce quality music; records like “Real People”, “Take It Off” and “Tongue in Chic” are excellent, so much the worse for those who haven't noticed.
Snappy rhythms, choruses immediately imprinted in the memory, harmonic refinements sown here and there, and above all a lot of swinging funk as few bands have been able to do over the years.

Their best album remains “Risqué”, from 1979, composed entirely of excellent songs, from “Good Times” to “My Forbidden Lover” through the relaxation of “A Warm Summer Night” and the tap dance intervention of “My Feet Keep Dancing”. Majestic instrumental performances, perfect voices, arrangements of unsurpassed class make “Risqué” one of the last jewels of a genre that was dangerously moving towards standardization; in every track of this album the personality of those who created it shines.

After the untimely death of Edward and Thompson, only Nile remained to carry on the flag of the wild group
live concerts around the world; worth mentioning is the excellent “Live At Budokan”, testimony to the last concert held in 1996 together with Edwards.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.