Music Monday – C is for Chic

If I have musical heroes, they are Chic.

Their records are just the half of it, they, Nile Rodgers or Bernard Edwards or both, have produced a stack load of my favourite artists including Duran Duran and Madonna but also ‘supergroup’ The Power Station (2 members of Duran Duran, Tony Thompson – Chic’s drummer and the brilliant Robert Palmer). Sad to note that Tony Thompson, Robert Palmer and Bernard Edwards (just 43) all passed away but left not only a huge musical legacy but a big influence on me.

They’ve also produced (revived) Diana Ross and Sister Sledge and so many more.
What I have learnt is that Bob Clearmountain, known to me as Bryan Adams’ main producer but also works with Springsteen, Bon Jovi and hundreds of others, engineered their first album. So in fact they link up a vast majority of my favourite artists.

Let’s go for a top 5 of these genius artists:
Dance Dance Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)
Le Freak – known for being a gigantic influence on a huge variety of bassists, the bass line in this is the most amazing. Apparently this track was the biggest seller for Warner Bros until Madonna’s Vogue came along
My Forbidden Lover
He’s the Greatest Dancer (Sister Sledge but heck, it’s their track. “One night at a disco on the outskirts of Frisco, I was cruising with my favourite gang”. That line made me go to the only place on the west coast of America I ever wanted to go, San Francisco.
Good Times – in my top 10 of all time and possibly the most sampled track of all time although possibly Rodgers & Edwards are the most sampled producers of all time?

My childhood, indeed my life is deeply enriched for hearing Chic.
Nile Rodgers

Book – Cider With Roadies, Stuart Maconie

I know, I am so late in picking up on the ‘Radio Two Boys’ books but having read Mark Radcliffe’s earlier this year, I had to readdress the balance by reading Maconie’s from 2003..

A different read altogether, although both massive music fans, Maconie being a hardened NME hack from the 80’s – 90s, his stories are markedly different.

Whereas Radcliffe talks about how he met some of his musical ‘heroes’ (No, Stuart, I cannot think of a better word but we will need to invent one) and what an impact they had previously on his young life, Maconie has to remain aloof. An NME hack he otherwise would not be.

I enjoyed the early excitement of his first record, first gig, first band to play in as well as many other firsts including his first hearing of the Beatles but most importantly The Smiths who unusually, always appear to stay the ‘darlings of the NME’ whereas others come and go.

But let’s be honest, the rapid page turning really starts after the absolute joy of having his first review accepted by the NME. For I too was that person when I was a teen and spent many hard earned pennies on postage by sending grovelling letters to the music press and even getting interviewed by Mr David Hepworth. I cannot remember which magazine it was for but they called me in even though there wasn’t a job going because of ‘my enthusiasm’. However, although music is my first love, I loved all media and started working on the best local newspaper and stayed in newspapers for over a decade. Too cut a long story short, I decided I didn’t want to be poor and can return to writing at much later date (now, for example) and if I earn a decent wage, I don’t need to rely on the free gig tickets and albums that a journalist receives.

Back to the page turning, the book lit up as Maconie became a fully fledged NME writer, being sent round the world to interview bands that pick up the tab for the fancy hotel stays, the fancy drinks and any fancies that were deemed necessary.

The first in his case was INXS in America, for which Maconie had to get himself a passport and a visa in a couple of days. How things have changed.

I don’t know when I realised this but Maconie was a fully qualified rock journalist before he realised that the record companies – and therefore the bands, paid for the journalist expenses. The bigger realisation is that bands only did interviews and paid for journalist’s expenses to go and interview them when they had something to promote (Knowledge I must have been born with as I just don’t remember learning it). So basically the journalist expenses come out of the PR and marketing budget but this was a big day for Maconie.

A highlight for me when Maconie meets my own music inspirations, Chic, AKA, Bernard Edwards and Nile Rogers. In this case, the author did ask them to autograph his record and quite frankly, I would have done the same.
I love that innocence in this book, the reason that no matter how hardened he got Maconie, kept – indeed keeps – his enthusiasm for good music today.

Long may the Radio Two Boys reign

Monday to Wednesday 8-10pm (Sadly no longer Thursdays)

Inspiration factor 9½/10

All time top 10 tunes

In no particular order

  1. Bryan Adams – Run To You (1984)

From the opening brilliant riff, this made me realise I can like all types of music, however uncool and if had to choose just one best track, this is it

  1. Duran Duran – Planet Earth (1981)

This track blew me away and got me committed to music. Finally a band I could call my own

  1. Abba – Dancing Queen (1976)

The first record I danced to in public, at the school disco. I’d taken it in. This is to be played at my funeral as the coffin disappears.

  1. Billy Idol – Rebel Yell (1984)

Raw energy in this; the cross over record between punk and rock – and you can dance to it.

  1. The Cult – Sanctuary (1985)

Raw energy for longer. I always love a track that starts in gear 4 but still manages go higher as many do on this list do.

  1. The Undertones – Teenage Kicks (1978)

Everything we need to know and remember about being a teenager. It makes the heart tick faster just as it would have done all those years ago when the object of our desire so much as walked past us.

  1.  Modjo – Lady (2000)

The newest addition and now ten years old. Seriously, I had to kick ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’ out of the top 10 for this. Disco 21st century style.

  1. Chic – Good Times (1979)

Turned me onto disco and then to New York. Bernard Edwards & Nile Rogers are my musical ‘heroes’. Everything they touch turned to gold. RIP Mr Edwards, you made me listen, you made my smile, you made me dance and you make it worth-while.

  1. Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel –Make Me Smile (Come & Up & See Me) (1975)

I got into this through Duran Duran’s cover version. Timeless.

      1.  Candy Station – Young Hearts Run Free (1976)

From a childhood memory song to a grown-up theme tune

Whereas the ultimate all time Top Ten is unchanging, until something comes out that is worthy of it’s presence at the top the following can change from time to time but they are more or less solid. I do believe a track has to be around a good 5-10 years before it can be categorised as an all time favourite.

NB I’ve included the release dates but that doesn’t mean I knew the song when it came out. Additionally, at least three of my all time faves are missing here, Springsteen, Madonna and Gun but they’ll feature in the lists coming up each week.

What’s your all time top 10?