Happen upon one of that rarest of rarities, a piece of mainstream pop music from the 1980s that was any good, and it’s fairly likely Nile Rodgers had a hand in making it. He’s not 100% reliable in that respect – he sucked all the substance out of David Bowie and was half-responsible for the worst part of his career. But as far as danceable chart hits go, Rodgers is the king, initially as Chic’s frontman, then as the wannabe hit-maker’s producer of choice.
There’s a secret jazz sophisticate coyly hiding behind his pop-emperor status – Rodgers-penned tunes are all chiming Major and Minor 7ths and 9ths, jazzy voodoo making them sing. Some epoch-definingly good music and several Status Quo albums have rested on pressing the same old basic chords into serving again and again, but it’s these diverse (or at least a tad more varied than is standard in pop) influences that give Rodgers his distinctive sound. As a guitarist, his syncopated funk cluck (as opposed to a syncopated fuck clunk, which sounds very painful and a lot harder to dance to) is instantly recognisable, most recently demonstrated on his smash hit collaboration with Daft Punk, ‘Get Lucky’ (reasonably good as far as substanceless modern pop goes).
Disco didn’t and doesn’t suck. Like all bouncy, vacuous pop, it’s fun in moderation. Things have arguably got a lot worse on that front – compare the amount of craftsmanship a Lennon and McCartney put into their average single with the kind of shoddily manufactured drivel slung chart-wards nowadays. The pop’s got abysmal, and anything that isn’t abysmal pop is more marginalised and being nurtured less than ever before.
But we digress. The Bemolution unashamedly commends a vintage slab of disco-pop to the House – Sister Sledge, 1978, ‘He’s The Greatest Dancer’, both produced and funkily played on by Nile and his Chic bassist, writing and production partner Bernard Edwards.