I thought I’d give this blog one more attempt today. I have begun three entries and rejected all of them after a paragraph. I am not really experiencing a writer’s block, per se, I am simply experiencing a higher than normal pain level today and my stupid back spasms are hitting me especially hard today. Actually, this should not be a surprise, as I have these kind of days after I get my pain pump refilled, as I did this past Friday. The problem is I did not slow down enough over the weekend in order to get things back to normal, so this is the payment I must make for trying to fight through the pain as if I were a distance runner all over again. But, I am not, but I have never been good at accepting my limitations, no matter how often they are exposed to me on a daily basis. My motto continues to be if my brain works then the rest of me must as well. Therein lies the problem. C’est la vie.
So, how does one fight these high pain days. Since I have a pain pump, I do not take oral pain medications, which is a good thing since they make me “dopey”. On the other hand, I do supplement my pain pump dose every couple of hours with ibuprofen and acetaminophen on an alternating schedule. Usually, my music of choice is metal on these days because I can stand in my small music room and scream at the top of my lungs as Metallica, Iron Maiden or Slayer melts my speakers. However, on the rare days when the pain exceeds all normal levels I actually turn to disco of all things. The throbbing bass tends to hit my back muscles in competing waves which unbelievably work together to cancel the severity of the spasms. It’s similar to the way noise-canceling headphones work. My usual go-to albums are Rick James, Donna Summer, KC & the Sunshine Band and Chic/Nile Rodgers. Of course, I chose Chic and Nile not only for the fantastic rhythm foundation found in their music and production work of other artist, but because I thought today would be a great day to review the excellent compilation of the work of the Chic Organization titled Up All Night.
Actually, this album’s title is Nile Rodgers Presents The Chic Organization: Up All Night and was released in 2013 in the wake of the success Nile was experiencing when Daft Punk asked him to help them on a Chic-influenced tune released in 2013 called “Up All Night”. That song went on to win the Grammy Award for Record of the Year, a very deserving award. And, the whole pandemonium put Nile back in the spotlight.
Now, this compilation CD is a two-disc collection of Chic songs and much of Rodgers’ production work during the late-Seventies and Eighties. So, in addition to Chic’s unforgettable songs like “Le Freak” and “Good Times,” the song that is the basis of “Rapper’s Delight”, the CDs hold many of the better dance/disco songs that he produced for other artists. Suddenly, you realize why he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a musician and artist when you look over this album’s tracklist only to discover that Rodgers had produced dance hits for Sister Sledge (We Are Family album), Diana Ross (diana), Blondie’s Debby Harry’s first solo album (Koo Koo), as well as dance songs by the likes of Carly Simon and Johnny Mathis. Unfortunately, this compilation ignores some of Rodgers’ better work with David Bowie (Let’s Dance), Madonna (“Like a Virgin”), Duran Duran (a remix of the single “The Reflex”, the single “Wild Boys” and their trio album Notorious) and the Vaughan Brothers, Stevie Ray and Jimmie, sole album, as well as his other excursions in the rock world.
Still, what you have is that cool disco funk sound that Chic was known for, something of a meeting between Steely Dan, Roxy Music and Parliament/Funkadelic. The music is smooth, the rhythm is throbbing and fluid and the lyrics are full of double meanings, which makes the listening experience even more pleasurable. It’s a thinking man’s dance music. Or, is it a “boogie-ers'” thinking music? Hell, who cares! It stimulates my mind as it makes me want to hit the dance floor. This best part about this music is Rodgers’ “chka-chka-chka” guitar work that is uniquely HIS sound.
No, Chic was NEVER like the Village People, a novelty act. They were way more than that. But, unfortunately, the band popped on the scene just as the whole “Disco Destroyers” movement was catching steam. Yet, as new wave moved toward the forefront of the whole music scene, it became apparent that Chic’s influence was living on in this “new” music at the dawn of the Eighties. Today, Chic lives on in the electronic dance music that kids are listening to in the form of Daft Punk, LCD Soundsystem, and many others.
Still, the original is my preferred source of this music.