Review by Charles Shaar Murray published in Melody Maker magazine in 1980.

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 of course!).
'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 sound down.
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.