13 Apr Chic – ‎1978 – C’est Chic

Chic – ‎1978 – C’est Chic

A bright, shining example of what mass-produced, intelligent dance music should be.

This is one of the top 5 disco albums and a pinnacle from the best band since the big band era. It exploded with confidence and talent to spare onto an unsuspecting audience who had benignly liked the group’s first lp. Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards seemed ready to discard conventions in pop music and had the skill to achieve this goal. Even the album cover was unique, listing the song titles on the front and depicting the band in the cool, detached, stylish way that became their trademark for a while.

The music didn’t depend on the personality of the vocalists; rather, the group was conceived to be an organic whole. Instrumental and semi-instrumental tracks were heard alongside songs with chanted verses; song construction and arrangement had the string section not just creating a backdrop but often carrying the melody. The guitar assumed rhythm duties; at times the bass played melody. The interplay of guitar and bass was well served with a bedrock of solid drumming and piano playing (witness “I Want Your Love“, “Chic Cheer“). The arrangements were unconventional but subtle.

Much has been said about “Le Freak” a huge hit in 1978. A hard sell to the label suits, it ended up an anthem of the times, serving multiple duty as disco hit, dance step hallmark, and banner for the socially disenfranchised who were being edged off the very club floors they created by increasing numbers of suburban dancers. More remarkable is “I Want Your Love” a perfection of a song that works in the clubs, on the radio, in the living room, and especially in the bedroom. Seductive and plaintive, it is one of the most gorgeous, well crafted recordings ever.

Tracks
A1 Chic Cheer 4:42
A2 Le Freak 5:23
A3 Savoir Faire 5:01
A4 Happy Man 4:17
B1 I Want Your Love 6:45
B2 At Last I Am Free 7:08
B3 Sometimes You Win 4:26
B4 (Funny) Bone 3:41

AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier

Released in 1978, just as disco began to peak, C’est Chic and its pair of dancefloor anthems, “Le Freak” and “I Want Your Love“, put Chic at the top of that dizzying peak. The right album at the right time, C’est Chic is essentially a rehash of Chic, the group’s so-so self-titled debut from a year earlier. That first album also boasted a pair of floor-filling anthems, “Dance Dance Dance” and “Everybody Dance“, and, like C’est Chic, it filled itself out with a mix of disco and ballads.

So, essentially, C’est Chic does everything its predecessor did, except it does so masterfully: each side similarly gets its timeless floor-filler (“Le Freak“, “I Want Your Love“), quiet storm come-down (“Savoir Faire“, “At Last I Am Free“), feel-good album track (“Happy Man“, “Sometimes You Win“), and moody album capper (“Chic Cheer“, “[Funny] Bone“).

Producers Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers were quite a savvy pair and knew that disco was as much a formula as anything. As evidenced here, they definitely had their fingers on the pulse of the moment, and used their perceptive touch to craft one of the few truly great disco albums. In fact, you could even argue that C’est Chic very well may be the definitive disco album. After all, countless artists scored dancefloor hits, but few could deliver an album this solid, and nearly as few could deliver one this epochal as well. C’est Chic embodies everything wonderful and excessive about disco at its pixilated peak. It’s anything but subtle with its at-the-disco dancefloor mania and after-the-disco bedroom balladry, and Edwards and Rodgers are anything but whimsical with their disco-ballad-disco album sequencing and pseudo-jet-set Euro poshness. Chic would follow C’est Chic with “Good Times“, the group’s crowning achievement, but never again would Edwards and Rodgers assemble an album as perfectly calculated as C’est Chic.

BBC Review by Daryl Easlea

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.

Forty years old at the time of writing, it remains irresistible.

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25 Comments
  • Timothy Wallace
    Posted at 18:40h, 13 April 2018 Reply

    This is Nile Rodgers finest moment. The rhythm guitar is peerless. Just outstanding.
    Bernard Edwards bassline is sublime too.

  • John P
    Posted at 18:49h, 13 April 2018 Reply

    This is the soundtrack of my life!

  • Nikos
    Posted at 18:55h, 13 April 2018 Reply

    Alfa Anderson – Lead vocals
    Luci Martin – vocals
    Bernard Edwards – bass guitar
    Nile Rodgers – guitar, vocals
    Tony Thompson – drums
    Diva Gray – vocals
    David Lasley – vocals
    Luther Vandross – vocals
    Robert Sabino – clavinet, acoustic piano and electric piano
    Raymond Jones – Fender Rhodes
    Sammy Figueroa – percussion
    Jose Rossy – tubular bells
    Marianne Carroll (The Chic Strings) – strings
    Cheryl Hong (The Chic Strings) – strings
    Karen Milne (The Chic Strings) – strings
    Jon Faddis – trumpet
    Ellen Seeling – trumpet
    Alex Foster – saxophone
    Jean Fineberg – saxophone
    Barry Rogers – trombone
    Gene Orloff – concert master

  • Ufo88
    Posted at 19:49h, 13 April 2018 Reply

    Some of the classiest disco songs ever. And Chic created that kimd of music.

  • Adam E. Garfield
    Posted at 23:20h, 13 April 2018 Reply

    r.i.p tony Thompson r.i.p bernard Edwards r.i.p alfa. we miss you guys. you will not be forgotten.

  • Cecelia
    Posted at 02:29h, 14 April 2018 Reply

    it’s still a fan favorite to this day!

  • The Farmer
    Posted at 11:10h, 14 April 2018 Reply

    This bassline is friggin legendary

  • Kefal5
    Posted at 12:03h, 14 April 2018 Reply

    Μan this is legendary. Thanks for the extra goodies.

  • Kenneth
    Posted at 21:30h, 14 April 2018 Reply

    Tight. Professional. Unique. They still sound great.

  • Bow
    Posted at 00:38h, 15 April 2018 Reply

    I like many old record collectors who have amassed staggering collections throughout their time, throughout the years have kept coming back here not so much for the downloads (as so many of this we have) but to read the always fantastic reviews and information posted about the soundtracks of our lives. The music we still continue to play and enjoy more than anything now playing in popular music of this time. Today’s Chic posting compelled me to once again put the needle to the records of my Chic collection and transport right back to forty years ago. As always thanks NIKOS. Blessings to you and the family.

  • Nali
    Posted at 12:13h, 15 April 2018 Reply

    I’ve always loved this piece. The music is so lush you just never want it to end. Thanks so much for posting it!

  • Alan Buck
    Posted at 23:29h, 15 April 2018 Reply

    Classic Chic, classic NYC late 70s when the city was on fire and world capital of dance.

  • Clive
    Posted at 23:05h, 16 April 2018 Reply

    THE bass line…

  • Paula
    Posted at 23:09h, 16 April 2018 Reply

    These jams are way toooo coooooooool

  • Rachel
    Posted at 12:36h, 17 April 2018 Reply

    Love the way the strings harmonise with funky guitar sounds, along with fantastic vocals and that bass by Bernard. Top Class..

  • Samuel Vega
    Posted at 12:38h, 17 April 2018 Reply

    The genius of Rogers and Edwards and still Atlantic Records biggest selling single is “Le Freak”. Now that’s a musical legacy… utterly timeless.

  • A.Martinez
    Posted at 13:22h, 17 April 2018 Reply

    Bernard, Nile ,Tony and company are my Beatles!

  • Sunny
    Posted at 00:14h, 19 April 2018 Reply

    Amazing LP. God bless Chic. The golden era of Disco/Soul/Funk.

  • Josephine
    Posted at 00:16h, 19 April 2018 Reply

    LES MELODIES EXEPTIONNELLES
    DE CHIC ¡!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Jerome
    Posted at 00:28h, 19 April 2018 Reply

    my goodness.. such a timeless piece !

  • Dallas
    Posted at 01:16h, 19 April 2018 Reply

    Absolutely magnificent !

  • Ray
    Posted at 23:28h, 19 April 2018 Reply

    Masterpiece. period.

  • Joaquin
    Posted at 23:32h, 19 April 2018 Reply

    The genius of Nile and Bernard, a truly incredible album which marked the late 70’s sound. Still sounds fresh.

  • Oscar
    Posted at 00:58h, 21 April 2018 Reply

    this was an outstanding band!!!

  • Jamie
    Posted at 01:41h, 22 April 2018 Reply

    People realize this was one of the best albums of 1978. And 1978 was a glorious year for music.

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