Thursday, 16 May 2019

Chic ‎– Risqué (1979)

Style: Disco
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Atlantic

A1.   Good Times
A2.   A Warm Summer Night
A3.   My Feet Keep Dancing
B1.   My Forbidden Lover
B2.   Can't Stand To Love You
B3.   Will You Cry (When You Hear This Song)
B4.   What About Me

Credits: Bass, Vocals – Bernard Edwards Drums – Tony Thompson Guitar – Nile Rodgers Keyboards – Andy Schwartz, Raymond Jones, Rob Sabino Percussion – Sammy Figueroa Strings – Cheryl Hong, Karen Karlsrud, Karen Milne, Valerie Haywood Strings – Gene Orloff Vocals – Alfa Anderson, Fonzi Thornton, Luci Martin, Michelle Cobbs, Ullanda McCullough
Producer – Nile Rodgers And Bernard Edwards Written-By, Arranged By, Conductor – Bernard Edwards And Nile Rodgers Arranged By – Nile Rodgers

Chic’s third album, Risqué, is one of the greatest exhibits in the case for disco’s defence. Released in the summer of 1979, it was as integral to the Atlantic label as any of the great rock albums that had taken the imprint out of Black America and into the world in the late 60s. With a budget of $160,000, it was a widescreen record with widescreen ambitions. 
Good Times, with its striking, repetitive strangeness, is the greatest track here. It nodded to the Great Depression, with guitarist Nile Rodgers partially recycling the lyrics to the US 1930s standard Happy Days Are Here Again. It’s a masterful song, yet smacks somewhat of a distant desperation, a robotic reminder that if you repeat a mantra of happiness long enough you may finally actually believe in it. All the component parts of Good Times continually surprise: the four-note string refrain alternating on the verse; the almost claustrophobic unison of the vocals; and then the break. Bassist Bernard Edwards’ 20-note riff drives the record forward over Tony Thompson’s crispest snare-crack. It was used on street corners throughout the world as the backing to what disco did next: hip hop. 
Of the album’s six other tracks, My Forbidden Lover explored the irresistible urge of the forbidden. What About Me centred on 70s selfishness. Can’t Stand to Love You was a dark vignette about sinister love ("Little punk do it for me, or I’ll number your days"), and Will You Cry (When You Hear This Song) is a painfully beautiful ballad, one of vocalist Alfa Anderson’s best performances. My Feet Keep Dancing demonstrates both Chic’s intelligence and sophistication. It underlines how dance is a celebration of life, even with the sound of vaudeville tap dancing as the ‘solo’. Only the beautiful A Warm Summer Night seems to drift by without any deeper agenda. 
Risqué is an album that dwells on relationships: bleak, unrequited ones, tinged with sadism and despair; relationships with the past, and, of course, with the dance floor. As a result, it remains Chic’s most sustained artistic statement, a celebration of a 70s that was collapsing under its own excess and hedonism. Risqué is all angular veneers, thrown shapes and dark shadows – it is the disco album as a rock classic.
Daryl Easlea / BBC Review 

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