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Everybody Dance: Chic and the Politics of Disco [Paperback]

Daryl Easlea
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

24 Oct 2004
1-2 Awwwwwww … Freak out! … Le Freak, C’est Chic. Few narratives in pop encompass Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Roxy Music, Madonna, Duran Duran, Diana Ross, Johnny Mathis and Led Zeppelin. This story is one of them. Chic, led by former Black Panther activist Nile Rodgers and down-home family man Bernard Edwards, are one of the most underrated and pivotal acts in African-American musical history. As artists, they created a discrete R&B sound that just happened to coincide with the disco movement. At the height of their fame, they either released or produced a string of era-defining records; Dance Dance Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah),Le Freak, Good Times, We Are Family, Lost In Music. When disco collapsed, so did Chic’s popularity. The group quietly called it a day in 1983. However, Rodgers and Edwards individually produced some of the great pop-dance records of the 80s, working with David Bowie, Robert Palmer, Madonna, Duran Duran and ABC among many others. After!
Chic reunited in 1992, to rave reviews but indifferent sales, the group performed intermittently until Edwards died shortly after a triumphant gig in Japan in 1996. Rodgers alone keeps the Chic flame alive today. Everybody Dance puts the rise and fall of the emblematic disco duo at the heart of a changing landscape, taking in socio-political and cultural events such as the Civil Rights struggle, the Black Panthers and the US oil crisis. There are up-tight artists, drugs, dancing, and Muppets but, most importantly an in-depth appraisal of a group whose legacy remains hugely underrated
Draws on hours of new interviews with band members and their friends and associates, as well as DAVID BOWIE, BRYAN FERRY, AHMET ERTEGUN, MARTIN FRY and JOHN TAYLOR.


Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Helter Skelter Publishing (24 Oct 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1900924560
  • ISBN-13: 978-1900924566
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.9 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 631,394 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Chic are very important – they made some incredible records. -- Bryan Ferry

Daryl Easlea's triumphant Everybody Dance is the scholarly reappraisal the 'black Roxy Music' deserve. -- Time Out, Nov 2004

Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards are among the great R&B producers of all time. -- Ahmet Ertegun

Number 14 in Uncut Books Of The Year 2005, top forty. -- Uncut, January, 2006

Number 3 in NME Books Of The Year, 2005, top ten list. -- NME, December 3, 2005

When Nile picked up his guitar it struck me how elegant and stylish this master of funk really was. -- David Bowie

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Extract from Chapter 10
[In spite of the phenomenal success of their early hits], Rodgers and Edwards still had to run the gamut of Studio 54’s notorious door policy.
It was snowing in New York when Rodgers and Edwards stepped up to
Studio 54’s fabled doorway on 31st December 1977. The pair had been asked
to join Grace Jones, who was partying inside. Already the pair were sporting
clothes commensurate with the fact that their debut single had just sold a
million copies within a month. Both dressed in black tie, Rodgers was
wearing a Cerutti dinner jacket and Edwards was in Armani. ‘Grace Jones
ruled the nightclub scene and decided she wanted us to produce her next
album. She told us to come and meet her on New Year’s Eve at Studio 54, but
we weren’t on the list,’ Rodgers explained to The Observer in 2003. Rodgers’
then-girlfriend, who knew Marc Benecke, had previously been able to get
Rodgers in without any problems.
They went to the club’s back door and attempted to get in. Their names
weren’t down. While the club rocked to their early hits ‘Dance Dance Dance’
and the still-to-be-released ‘Everybody Dance’, the two main protagonists
were outside being denied admission. ‘We said, "We’re Chic", and the guy on the door said "Chic? S**t!"’ After checking through Grace Jones’ personal list,
the pair moved to the front door, where at least, Rodgers thought, Marc
Benecke would recognise him and let them through. As Rodgers told Anthony
Haden Guest in The Last Party: ‘Marc totally disregarded us. He didn’t give us a second look … . Our lives before we had our hit were fun and interesting, but it was tough to make it. Now we had made it and we had the ultimate
rejection’.
Thinking that maybe someone else would come out and look for them,
Rodgers and Edwards remained on the snowbound 54th street. It finally got
too much. After considerable further negotiation, the notoriously fascistic
door staff held their position and the duo were cast out into the night.
After picking up some champagne, cocaine and marijuana, the duo
decided to have their own private party back at Rodgers’ apartment on 52nd
Street. Naturally, they started to jam. As Rodgers continued in The Last Party:
‘We were just yelling obscenities... We were entertaining the hell out of
ourselves.’ Suddenly, the music began to coalesce. The guitar and bass part
locked in and a repeated refrain of ‘Aaaaaaaah, f**k off!’ became the jam’s
focal point. Eventually, the f**k became freak. Off became out.
With its reference to the disco scene’s more complex and obscure dances,
the freak, and Rodgers’ acid past, ‘Le Freak’ was to become Chic’s commercial
zenith. Within a year, with one single tune, Nile Rodgers and Bernard
Edwards were to capture the zeitgeist like two funked-up Samuel Pepys,
recording for posterity ‘54’ in the lyrics of one of the best-selling singles of all
time:
Like the days of stomping at the Savoy,
Now we freak, oh what a joy,
Just come on down to 54,
Find a spot out on the floor …

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE DEFINITIVE BOOK ON CHIC!!! 28 Nov 2004
Format:Paperback
As a lifelong fan of Nile Rodgers' & Bernard Edwards' prolific songwriting & production skills & musicianship, this book was long overdue for me but well worth the wait. This quality wordy tome has interviews from all the main people who knew & worked with Nile & Bernard. Using more recent interviews interspersed with archive ones, the reader is able to totally get a feel of the era from Chic's early days & beyond. You feel excited sharing the "Good Times" & feel despairingly sad when you "Flashback" to some of the episodes which led to broken friendships & the demise of Chic.
You feel incredulous at the prejudice perpetuated by record company policy or radio programmers to their music, or even to the idea of them producing white artists like David Bowie.
You feel immense pride when after being cruelly put down by so-called experts & critics for being a "disco act", they then become the most sought after producers throughout the 1980s. From producing Diana Ross to Madonna & ABC, via David Bowie, INXS, Robert Palmer & Rod Stewart to name just some. There's also a chapter on the now infamous "lost album" recorded with Johnny Mathis entitled "I Love My Lady".
All the former band members conribute too-Karen Milne former violinist of the Chic Strings has contributions from her tour & recording dates diary wich makes for fascinating reading.
With a lot of pictures & memorabilia featured from my own collection also, the contributions from so many credible sources serve to mark this book with the desrved tag of, "The Chic Bible". It truly is wonderful & I can't recommend it highly enough.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Any musician need to read this book 15 Feb 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you have never heard of producers Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, you're not a musician (I mean , maybe a classical one, but that's about it). the good news is: it's not too late! The great news is: Someone has finally managed to write a book to let an important part of the world know about the most under rated producers of the XXth century. And when I say under rated, I don't mean badly rated. They are extremely well- rated, but the significance of their job, no matter how well rated, is still completely not rated to the standard it deserves. In many respect, Rodgers and Edwards are the Larry and Fonce Mizell of the late 70s/beg of the 80s (if you do not know these producers either, what are we gonna do with you... :) ). I am glad that justice, truth and respect is finally established by this book and that the Chic band's place is finally recognized in the history of music. We have been waiting long. Thank you Daryl. If you know David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, Madonna, Sister Sledge, the power station, Diana Ross, Duran Duran, ABC, Robert Palmer, Luther Vanross, Fonzi thornton and many others... You NEED TO KNOW about Rodgers and Edwards. And why GOOD TIMES is one of the most influential track ever.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bin-kicking corker! 1 April 2005
Format:Paperback
Great job man -- the ultimate book on Chic. It's a pleasure, and it's a gem, but most of all it's an opera without a stage!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS IS THE DEFINTIVE CHIC BIBLE, PEOPLE! 11 Dec 2004
By Glen J. Russell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As a lifelong fan of Nile Rodgers' & Bernard Edwards' prolific songwriting & production skills & musicianship, this book was long overdue for me but well worth the wait. This quality wordy tome has interviews from all the main people who knew & worked with Nile & Bernard. Using more recent interviews interspersed with archive ones, the reader is able to totally get a feel of the era from Chic's early days & beyond. You feel excited sharing the "Good Times" & feel despairingly sad when you "Flashback" to some of the episodes which led to broken friendships & the demise of Chic.

You feel incredulous at the prejudice perpetuated by record company policy or radio programmers to their music, or even to the idea of them producing white artists like David Bowie.

You feel immense pride when after being cruelly put down by so-called experts & critics for being a "disco act", they then become the most sought after producers throughout the 1980s. From producing Diana Ross to Madonna & ABC, via David Bowie, INXS, Robert Palmer & Rod Stewart to name just some. There's also a chapter on the now infamous "lost album" recorded with Johnny Mathis entitled "I Love My Lady".

All the former band members conribute too-Karen Milne former violinist of the Chic Strings has contributions from her tour & recording dates diary which makes for fascinating reading.

With a lot of pictures & memorabilia featured from my own collection also, the contributions from so many credible sources serve to mark this book with the desrved tag of, "The Chic Bible". It truly is wonderful & I can't recommend it highly enough.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars At Last-- A Biography Of Chic 20 Jan 2005
By disco75 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In the wake of the recent serious disco music histories such as *Last Night A DJ Saved My Life* and *Love Saves The Day* are coming some more specific coverage of individual artists. This book covering Chic and the upcoming review of Sylvester's career are providing the information that many of us have been wading through old periodicals to find. The author of this Chic book has certainly done his homework. He tracked down virtually all of the Chic members who were living at the time, as well as relatives, business associates, and affiliated artists. He has put together an impressive amount of new material from interviews and research and he has assembled a wide sampling of the magazine articles from the 70s and afterwards. Kudos to Easley for his archiving and interviewing efforts.

*Everybody Dance* gives a fairly complete accounting of the origins of the band and each member, the career of Chic and its off-shoot groups, its struggles after 1985, and how it negotiated the revival of interest in dance and disco musics. Easley has also included a number of photos from the four decades.

The book reads compulsively in its first half, detailing the young Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, to the extent possible. Rodgers' fairly haunting background comes as a surprise and explains much about his personality. The early chapters of the book grab the reader because the author captures the spirit of yearning and the trials of the nascent group to accomplish its goals. As a reader, I became absorbed in the story, some of which was already familiar to me from previous interviews with the band members.

Unfortunately, Easley's agenda for incorporating the "Politics" of the subtitle is not well-integrated into the book, particularly after the first half dozen chapters or so. In fact, after Chapter 5 Easley gives up the introductory paragraph in which he recounts the current events of the day. It is not until Chapter 13 that he resumes this device, and with each succeeding chapter it is decreasingly successful in its attempt to set a context for the music. Rote citation of statistics about oil prices and presidential maneuvers is not enough to embed the social aspects of citizens and their entertainments. This is not a major flaw for the book necessarily, except that the subtitle IS "The Politics Of Disco."

Easley tries to punch up the dynamics of the group, apparently to create suspense in the portions of the tale covering the heyday of Chic. He stretches to do this, overstating the tensions and underplaying the accomplishments of the 80s in the effort to tell a tragic tale that is not, actually, all that tragic. There was great music created and much success during the 1980s for the group and its members.

Overstatement is a weakness that better editing would have minimized. The author is fond of using superlatives in his reviews of the group's playing and the recordings-- to the extent that he ends up contradicting himself about which track is the "strongest use of strings" or the "best bass playing." His fondness of using the term "arguably" arises several times in each chapter of the second half of the book. Proofreading would have caught this stylistic tic, as well the rampant grammatical errors such as missing apostrophes in possessives, misplaced commas, and unattributed quotes. The publisher let Easley down in the editing department.

Despite the shortcomings, the book represents a much-needed resource about the group, and the author has clearly put much legwork into his look at Chic. His love of the music is apparent and his enthusiasms are often infectious. Although he was "preaching to the choir" with this reader, I nevertheless found much of interest in the book and recommend it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excerpt from the book and an interview with the writer! 22 Nov 2004
By pocat - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is amazing. If anyone wants to read an interview with the writer, done by Glen J. Russell (see above) and an excerpt from the book, please visit: [...]
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars huge Chic fan 11 April 2013
By mistermaxxx08 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
straight up Rodgers and Edwards were two of the baddest writers and producers tag teams ever. in truth Chic had a sound and a style that couldn't be faded. this book takes you into the music and the shady narrow minded business. they always had to fight to get there thing across and the big wigs at the record company threw all kinds of racial wording there way, however they didn't back down. very compelling and well put together book. a great read and must have.
5.0 out of 5 stars chic everybody dance the politics of disco 8 May 2008
By Paul G. Hagan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
this book is very well researched & thoughtfully written for music junkies its a must especially for the dance & disco music family
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