CHIC's own Albums

They also did killer work producing other artists.

You can hear samples of some of the songs, and buy the albums at cdnow the online music store: click the info sound button (Oh no! I lied about not having any images at my site :-).

Early Days

The general agreement is that prior to forming CHIC Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards met in 1977 in  The Big Apple Band.  They recorded on The Big Apple Band's albums, and appeared in songs such as "I'm doin' fine now" (New York City) and "A Fifth of Beethoven" (Walter Murphy).

Prior to that it's a little unclear...

I've heard that Nile and 'Nard were in a proto-punk group named "Abdul" something.  Nile has said the short name CHIC came from the success of Kiss.

Norman Hathaway has them meeting much earlier.  he writes:

bernard, and nile went to high school with luther vandross, carlos alomar
and omar hakim. (luther got the gig as vocal arranger on bowie's young
americans after vandross dropped in to visit alomar, and made up the chorus
to the title track on the spot).

one of there earliest gigs was as the in-house band for sesame street.
luther too. wonder if any early sesame albums featured them?

hthere were two albums put out under the title luther, with pre-chic chic
and luther. they bombed, and i've been killing myself trying to find them
ever since.

nile was inspired to create chic while living in london and seeing roxy
music in concert (two female singers, nice clothes etc).


Cover: Two disco girls.

I think this came out to capitalize on "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah).

"C'est Chic"

Cover: The band relaxing in a spacious warm gazebo, dressed to kill. The album has the warm atmosphere delivered by the string section, and the confidence is compelling.

This has all the great songs from CHIC, plus tons more. It was extraordinary. Single after single were released, but there were still more great songs on the album. It's totally unlike the other 2x4 song albums they made, an instant greatest-hits package as a second album!

"Everybody Dance" is a fast, fast, FAST-paced dance song with a dancing bass line. Bernard Edwards shines.

"I Want Your Love" is an insistent song. Plaintive vocals lead into a descending chorus, it's the prototype for numerous other songs. The production uses tubular bells, an inspired left-field choice that rings out in the darkness of the song. The band knew they had a great song, so they play the chorus infinitely. If the hook doesn't get you, or if you don't like disco/R&B, the repetition is infuriating, but if you're willing to submit, it's a thrilling experience. This song ruled the airwaves one winter in London

"Savoir Faire" is a genre-busting instrumental, a jazzy guitar showcase with a blue mood and a sensitive interplay with the string section.

"Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Lose" is a bright sunny track. CHIC take a B-side song, give it sparkling keyboards, a warm chorus, and an intricate brass instrumental to close it out. Songs like this convinced artists to let CHIC write, arrange, produce, and perform entire albums for them.



Cover: Sepia-toned inside shot of the band clowning around in 20's costumes. On the back cover someone's died!

This was a lame follow-up. CHIC were insanely busy producing other artists, and the material is too thin (only 7 songs) and lacks the inventive production details of "C'est Chic".

It did very well in America, but the songs weren't strong enough to justify the long repetition, except for "These are the Good Times". This album propelled the "Disco sucks" backlash.

"These are the Good Times" has the most  instantly recognizable bass line of all time.  The Sugarhill Gang reused it to great effect in "The Rapper's Delight", and Queen borrowed it for their own urban groove "Another One Bites the Dust".  Nile wasn't bothered by the borrowing, hear his Fresh Aire interview. Some people savaged it as a mindless head-in-the-sand anthem for recessionary times, but it's self-aware and there's a hint of desperation in the vocals.

"My Feet Keep Dancing" wasn't a good dance song! It's a 33 1/3 RPM song that doesn't come to life until you play it at 40 RPM. The languid feel isn't rewarding.

"Real People"

Atlantic 50711 ©1980
Open Up - Real People - I Loved You More - I Got Protection
Rebels are We - Chip off the Old Block - 26 - You Can't Do it Alone

Cover: The band dressed up for a night on the town.

The album didn't do well, but it's a really strong group effort. Strings, vocals, musicianship in great form. But the songs are somewhat aimless, although there's some clever wordplay.

"Open Up", the opening instrumental is pretty unique, a symphonic R&B instrumental. The lush strings deliver the melody and are tightly controlled between the crisp drum breaks.

"Real People" is the opener after the opener. A SCREAMING guitar solo tears open the song, and the band demands "I want to live my life / With some Real People".

"Protection" is tight but aimless, more heavy guitar fireworks. A great rock guitarist was hiding out in a fading disco band. I think it was after this that Nile Rodgers produced the Jeff Beck "Flash" album.

"Rebels are We" features a spacious stripped sound, with Nile and Nard perfectly double-tracking the instrumental break on guitar and bass. It's a harbinger of the work to come in "Take it Off", more sculptured and spiky.

"26" is a clever play on the "She's a perfect 10" phrase/fad/movie of the time. "On a scale of 1 to 10 / My baby's 26". A great bass line. The stuttering rhythm starts and stops, it's a difficult but rewarding song to listen to. It ain't disco, that's for sure.

"You Can't Do it Alone" starts with perfect-touch drumming from Tony Thompson, a nylon-strung beauty of a few bars, and a great vocal. It's the classic B-side plaintive love song, but this time sung by a man (Fonzi Thornton). It's sad through and through. "Was it worth it, tell me girl / to lose your love, just to find yourself?". It's about the saddest song CHIC wrote, and it fades into a rapid nylon-strung solo (is it double-tracked? if not, Nile is truly God!).

Here's another appreciative review.

Take it Off

Atlantic SD 19323 ©1981
Stage Fright - Burn Hard - So Fine - Flash Back - Telling Lies
Your Love is Cencelled - Would You Be My Baby - Take it Off - Just out of Reach - Baby Doll

Cover: No more photos in high-style suits, instead an exuberant city sketch by Tony Wright.

An urban, stripped sound, less disco, more R&B. They're deep in the groove. The strings are gone.

"Stage Fright" and "Slap Your Face" are just solid groove work, dominated by Bernard Edwards' popping bass.

"So Fine" is Nile's riposte. A kinetic spinning figure, overlaid with jazzy leads. Both guitar parts blur the distinction between lead and rhythm. Everybody shines: Nile hands off the lead to a superb swooping synth lead, Tony's cymbal work is great.

"Make Love and Dance" ain't nothing but drum and bass, and a good lead vocal (by Nard?), a song of regret ("Make love and dance was all we'd do").

Tongue in Chic

Atlantic SD 80031-1 ©1982
Hangin' - I feel your Love Comin' On - When You Love Someone
Chic (Everybody Say) - Hey Fool - Sharing Love - City Lights

Cover: Tony Thompson flirting with a girl on a girder, the band wearing cool overcoats on the reverse.
Pretty lame, only 7 songs. ...


Atlantic 80107-1 ©1983
Believer - You are Beautiful - Take a Closer Look - Give Me the Lovin'
Show Me Your Light - You Got Some Love for Me - In Love with Music - Party Everybody

Cover: A great pastel montage illustration of the group by Peter Sato

Continues the hard-edged, glittering approach.  The title track is excellent, a propulsive train ride through different forms. The rest is pretty weak. The grooves are slow but not deep.

Jack Le Freak

This is a rap remix using "Le Freak". I don't think CHIC played on the re-recording. It was only available as a single.


They reformed and recorded this in the mid '90's, toured Japan, and tragically, Bernard Edwards passed away.

Live at the Budokan

Sumthing SE-1003-1 ©1999
Bernard introduction - Band introduction - Le Freak - Dance Dance Dance (intro) Dance Dance Dance - I Want Your Love - Sister Sledge (intro) - He's the Greatest Dancer - We are Family (intro) - We are Family - Do That Dance - Good Times (intro) - Good Times/Rapper's Delight - Stone Free (intro) - Stone Free - Chich Cheer - backstage - Bernard interview #2

Cover: Live band photographs

A live recording from CHIC's final Japanese tour on Sumthing Distribution which Nile Rodgers acquired in 1999). There are sound clips at Sumthing's site. The CD has some bits of Bernard Edwards talking, and lots of guest stars: three of Sister Sledge, Slash, and Steve Winwood. It's part of the "JT Super Producer" series, I think Nile won this award from death merchants Japan Tobacco.

It's not a great live recording, but Bernard's dancing yet rock-solid bass on "Dance Dance Dance" and "I Want Your Love" shines out of the mix as I'm sure Nile intended. It's great to hear the Japanese fans responding, they know the good stuff. Nile lays out into a killer jam on "We Are Family" with the raw guitar sound from Spacer.

Chic Freak and More Treats

Chic fans Idir Naït Aïssa and Norman Hathaway informed me of this album, recorded just before Bernard Edwards' death.
They re-recorded new versions of some of their big hits wtih a lot of guest stars :

It's on IMAGICA, a Japanese label, it's hard to find on the Internet.


The Best of CHIC

The title don't lie, this is a sensational set.  If you buy only one CHIC album, this has to be it.  It's on Rhino and out of stock  

The Best of CHIC Volume 2

A solid compilation (on Rhino records) of the "hits" that weren't, with perceptive commentary by Ken Barnes.  

Dance, Dance, Dance: Best of CHIC

An earlier Atlantic compilation.  Good stuff, but you get almost the same songs by buying the first Rhino compilation and then "C'est Chic".  

"Written, Arranged, Composed, Produced and Performed..."

This one doesn't exist, but should.  Much of CHIC's best work was with other artists.  Imagine "Spacer", "Lost in Music", "I'm Coming Out" all on one or two CD's!  C'mon Yves Beauvais and Atlantic, do it.  I've already written the liner notes ;-)

S Page, last updated October 17, 1999