Playlist: Chic and Nile Rodgers
Ten reasons to see them live (Madonna! Diana Ross! INXS!)
When word got out that Nile Rodgers was coming to town, a whole lotta people got very excited. This is because Rodgers is one of the biggest living legends in music today. He began his career as an incredible musician, playing for acts like Parliament, Aretha Franklin and the Sesame Street band. Then, in 1977, he decided to create "the black version of Roxy Music". Even if he had failed miserably he would still be the coolest person ever just for attempting that feat, but he didn't: that band was Chic, and they went on to make some of the biggest and best disco records of the 70s (not to mention contributing to the invention of hip hop by providing the sample for 'Rappers Delight').
After the spectacular success of Chic, Atlantic Records allowed Rodgers the freedom to produce any of the artists on the label. The first act he chose was Sister Sledge, the album was We Are Family, and the rest is history - history that includes producing and writing for Grace Jones, Duran Duran, Blondie, Laurie Anderson, Diana Ross... even our very own Tina Arena. Rodgers even recently said that he was working with Daft Punk on their new album, news that caused a mass fainting of Daft Punk fanboys worldwide. Chic (featuring Nile Rodgers) are in Australia very very soon to play Golden Plains, Playground Weekender and a couple of sideshows. Here are ten of Rodgers' best productions - aka ten excellent reasons to see Chic live.
1) Chic - 'Everybody Dance' (1978)
I don't think I've ever seen this song fail to fill a dance floor. 8 Luther Vandross on backing vocals!
2) Norma Jean - 'Saturday' (1978)
Norma Jean Wright is the vocalist from 'Everybody Dance'. How many songs can you think of with a two-minute intro?
3) Diana Ross - 'Upside Down' (1980)
Rodgers co-wrote and produced the entire Diana album with Aretha Franklin in mind. However, she turned everything down, including the massive hits 'My Old Piano', 'I'm Coming Out', and this song. The recording process was nightmarish, mostly because Rodgers and his co-producer Bernard Edwards told Ross that she was consistently flat. The album ended up being re-mixed and the vocals pitched up to make the then 36-year-old Ross sound younger. All the drama was worth it, though: the album has sold over ten million copies worldwide.
4) Sheila and B. Devotion - 'Spacer' (1980)
Later to be shamelessly sampled by Sweden's Alcazar, for their 2000 hit 'Crying At The Discotheque'.
5) Carly Simon - 'Why' (1982)
This is taken from the Rodgers-produced soundtrack to Soup for One. As an aside, I find Carly Simon's teeth TERRIFYING in this video.
6) David Bowie - 'Let's Dance' (1983)
Rodgers (along with Bowie himself) produced the entire Let's Dance album.
7) INXS - 'Original Sin' (1983)
Doesn't make much sense until you realise that those guitars are straight out of a Chic song.
8) Madonna - 'Like A Virgin' (1984)
Rodgers produced the Like A Virgin album, and you can find videos of Madonna extolling his virtues all over YouTube.
9) Bryan Ferry - 'Help Me' (1986)
Rodgers also has quite a few soundtracks to his name, including Gremlins, Coming to America, Halo 2 and 3, and The Fly, from which this Bryan Ferry track comes from.
10) B-52s - 'Roam' (1989)
the B-52s had been around since the late 70s, but they didn't break through to the mainstream until they brought Rodgers on board for 1989's Cosmic Thing.(the one with 'Love Shack' on it).
Chic feat. Nile Rodgers plays Monday 5 March at the Metro Theatre, Sydney and Wednesday 7 March at Billboard, VIC. Tickets for both here.