|Review by Charles Shaar Murray published in Melody Maker magazine
Flattery will get you everywhere
CHIC - Real People (Atlantic)
- CORPORATE entertainment: like Public Image Ltd and
The Human League, Chic are an organisation. Or rather, they are a highly
organised consumer service, hiring their skills out to others (Sister Sledge,
Sheila B. Devotion, Diana Ross) as well as using them on their own behalf.
The Chic sound-powerful, refined, spacious, elegant-is almost irresistible
when correctly applied: i.e. when they're doing a good song and the speakers
are up to it and you're dancing.
- Their vision is seductive: anyone can feel attractive
when dancing to it! Chic music flatters the listener quite beautifully.
In a library of pop, where Tom Waits is a book of poems from City Lights,
The Cramps are an EC comic and Kate Bush is a volume of Gurdjieff with
pressed flowers between the pages, Chic are an upmarket glossy magazine,
a sumptuous elegant production where style is all.
- Chic's albums are peculiar things: their music is
always at its finest when experienced in public, at a volume only possible
at home if all the neighbours went on holiday simultaneously, and in a
dancing situation. Their albums seem like periodic pauses to collect their
latest singles and to experiment with goals other than the achievement
of the ultimate dance-floor stunner. The singles are the lynchpins (but
- 'Real People' contains a lot of more than serviceable
dance grooves and a few nice lines (the title song is full of delicious
ironies, as in 'Rebels Are We', and '26'-as in "on a scale of one
to ten my baby's a 26"-is a gem), but a disturbing sluggishness-exemplified
by some less than acute string arrangements-seems to be weighing the Chic
- Also, Nile Rodgers is indulging himself in some flawlessly
executed but misconceived guitar solos which are by no means as beguiling
as his clipped stuttering rhythm chops.
- The last track 'You Can't Do It Alone'-in which a
male vocalist informs his departing girlfriend that she's bound to screw
up everything she touches if she attempts anything at all without his aid-is
possibly the most patronising song I've heard all year: emotional blackmail
of the subtler kind.
- It might be more practical for those not inclined
to compile their own 'Best Of Chic'-the official Greatest Hits album is
so poorly mastered that the tracks are shadows of their former selves as
Danny Baker pointed out at the time of its release-from their friends records
to wait until '26' and 'Rebels Are We' are available as singles (preferably
of the 12" variety) and then use them at parties for the purpose for
which they were intended.
- I'm not sure you'll be allowed to buy this album
unless you can prove that you've got a potted palm in the house, anyway.
|Thanks to Russell in the UK for this cutting.|| |