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Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco and Destiny Hardcover – 20 Oct 2011
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A rich, warm tale of a fascinating life in the golden age of New York and pop --Observer
* The astonishing and wildly entertaining memoir of Nile Rodgers: legendary producer and co-founder of the band Chic.See all Product description
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Nile Rodgers may be the most under-recognized talent of this generation. This is a humble, cathartic tale of disadvantage, talent, growth, excess, rejection, regret, hubris, regret, rebirth and ultimately, peace. The only criticisms are the hop, skip and jump about recovering from addiction and the abyss, and the omission/quick passage of the last 14 years. Clearly there was more to talk about, so why leave it out? Part 2? Hope so.
If you're looking for artistic depth and Rodgers' own "DHM" (you'll need to read the book to decode the success-cypher), there isn't one, so don't buy this book. If you're looking for sincere, engaging, fast-paced narrative, sprinkled with people and events you can identify with, you'll love it. Buy it!
The cultural importance of the work of Nile Rodgers and his collaborators in Chic (chiefly Bernard Edwards, of course) has been given insufficient recognition. Rodgers is aware of this but he isn't bitter or resentful to any great degree. His generosity of spirit towards others, regardless of colour or any other aspect of culture or background, is a telling indicator of why he managed to achieve so much. It is also in stark contrast to the casual racism that he and Bernard Edwards had to deal with repeatedly over several decades. That they did so with grace and humour is a testament to their decency and maturity and contrasts with the small-mindedness of many of those they dealt with. Accusations of racism are sometimes bandied about too freely these days, but Rodgers' comments about the impact of racism on Chic's achievements in the field of dance music and music more generally strike me as restrained if anything. The 'Disco Sucks' movement was just the tip of a singularly ugly iceberg.
Talk of the maturity of Nile Rodgers might seem to jar with the excesses of his lifestyle. However, given the picaresque horrors of his childhood it's a miracle he managed to handle his stellar rise as well as he did for so long. His tales of adult drink, drugs and sex strike one as neither salacious nor boastful. This isn't writing as therapy, it is writing as witness. In some respects, his obvious flaws and weaknesses make his achievements as a musician and as a person seem even more admirable.
Rodgers is not a writer, so one shouldn't expect a literary masterpiece. However, his briskly factual approach, with its lack of melodrama, make for a good read. He also has an occasionally beautiful turn of phrase that doubtless draws on decades of lyric-writing. He is a highly-intelligent, thoughtful individual. He doesn't brag or boast about this. He doesn't need to.
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