Long before he was hanging out with Daft Punk and Pharell on omnipresent mega hit ‘Get Lucky’ Nile Rodgers was the driving force behind Chic, a pioneering disco outfit from the ’70s that melded the funkiness of Rhythm and Blues basslines with playful guitars, shuddering percussion, and communal sing-a-longs. Chic crafted many of the greatest disco hits of the era (‘Le Freak’, ‘Everybody Dance’, ‘Lost In Music’ etc) – some for girl group Sister Sledge – and defined the sound for a generation, leaving their mark upon popular music forever.
1979’s ‘Good Times’ is perhaps the greatest example: a glorious, unforgettable dancefloor filler of a single for the ages. Built upon the foundation of Bernard Edward’s memorable dexterous, expanded bass motif, which is less a bassline and more one of the supporting pillars of popular music (it would later become the most sampled song ever and memorably used by the Sugar Hill Gang on nascent hip hop classic ‘Rapper’s Delight’). The string stings, insistent beats, joyous handclaps, piano dapples are all decorated with Rodgers’ trademark harmonic jangle, while the double-barrelled strident vocal melodies are unfussy and direct with singers Alfa Anderson and Luci Martin paired together like clasped hands. It’s a sophisticated suite, a heady concoction that will never fail to get your feet moving, your lungs singing, and your heart swelling.
Some at the time mistook ‘Good Times’ as a statement for pure hedonism and consumerism but cribbing from Milton Ager’s bar room sing-a-long ‘Happy Days are Here Again’: its bittersweet lyrics juxtapose the ‘stress and strife’ of a late ’70s economic depression in America, with the joy of being able to live for the weekend and forget your cares on the dance floor (“these are the good times/leaves your cares behind”).
Nile Rodgers would later go onto lend that trademark Chic production magic to the likes of Diana Ross, Madonna, Duran Duran and David Bowie earning him the title ‘The Hit Maker’. And who could argue with that?