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Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah! Rhino U.K. Keeps CHIC Fans “Up All Night” with New Two-Disc Compilation

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CHIC Up All Night Greatest HitsWith CHIC co-founder/co-producer/guitarist Nile Rodgers back in the musical spotlight where he belongs – his distinctive funk guitar anchors Daft Punk’s chart-topping single “Get Lucky,” the arguable song of the summer – Rhino’s U.K. arm has done well to introduce another CHIC-oriented compilation to stores.

Up All Night: The Greatest Hits (cheekily named after a lyric in “Get Lucky”) is more than just a set of tracks by the immortal disco band. Sixteen of the album’s 25 tracks are classics produced by Rodgers and late bassist Bernard Edwards on behalf of The CHIC Organization. These include mega hits by Sister Sledge (“We Are Family,” “He’s the Greatest Dancer”) and Diana Ross (“Upside Down,” “I’m Coming Out”) and awesome deep cuts by Norma Jean (“Saturday”), Debbie Harry (“Backfired”) and Carly Simon (“Why”). The title track to the legendary I Love My Lady, a shelved 1981 album produced by CHIC for Johnny Mathis, also makes an appearance. (Though I Love My Lady has yet to be released in full, several tracks from the sessions turned up on 2010’s Rodgers-assembled CHIC box set, which only came out in France, because the rest of mainland Europe or the U.S. apparently have gone insane.)

In fact, one can easily view this as a double-disc distillation of that box – although we have a few familiar names to thank for this compilation: the set’s been compiled by Wayne A. Dickson of Big Break Records and mastered by Dickson and BBR engineer Nick Robbins, with Christian John Wikane providing liner notes. “You will note that these are all the versions released on 12″ or LP,” Dickson posted on BBR’s Facebook page, “and that the the pitch/speed of the tracks is that of the original vinyl releases and not the slower versions on most CD releases up ’til now.” (On this point, we have retained the supplied timings in the track list.)

Up All Night: The Greatest Hits gets the party started on July 1. After the jump, pre-order your copy and check out the full track list!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

June 13, 2013 at 11:44

Gold Legion Goes “Koo Koo,” Expands Debbie Harry’s Solo Debut

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Well before she was French kissin’ in the U.S.A., Blondie lead singer Debbie Harry made a big splash with her 1981 solo debut Koo Koo, produced by the ever-busy CHIC Organization team of Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards. Thirty years later, the Gold Legion label, the same team behind those upcoming Grace Jones reissues, is releasing a newly expanded edition of the set with a new-to-CD bonus track.

In 1981, in the midst of a yearlong hiatus for Blondie (their latest, 1980’s Autoamerican, spawned chart-topping hits in “Rapture” and “The Tide is High”), Harry and boyfriend Chris Stein, Blondie’s guitarist, began a solo project for Harry. To produce, they enlisted Rodgers and Edwards, all of whom made friends recording at New York City’s Power Station. The CHIC Organization was riding high on the production front, having helmed Diana Ross’ massive diana the year before. (They would also record the sessions for Johnny Mathis‘ legendary unreleased album I Love My Lady in 1981.) They assembled the usual gang to back Harry: Rodgers and Edwards on guitar and bass, drummer Tony Thompson, keyboardists Robert Sabino and Raymond Jones and backing vocals from Fonzi Thornton. (Additional background vocals were credited to “Spud and Pud Devo,” who were, in fact, Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale of the band Devo.)

With a striking album sleeve (featuring a brunette Harry) designed by H.R. Giger, the Swiss surrealist whose designs became the fearsome title character of Ridley Scott’s iconic sci-fi/horror film Alien (1979), Koo Koo was a considerable success, ultimately certified as a gold record in the U.S. for over 500,000 units sold. (The album charted at No. 6 in the U.K., considerably higher than the U.S. placement of No. 25.) Rodgers/Edwards-penned singles “Backfired” and “The Jam Was Moving” were moderate chart hits on both sides of the Atlantic.

The album was reissued by Chrysalis/EMI U.K. in 1994, adding the 12″ mixes of the two singles to the track lineup. (A 1999 U.S. reissue on Razor & Tie only kept the remixed “Backfired.”) Gold Legion includes not only both of those tracks, but, for the first time ever on CD, the extended version of album cut “Inner City Spillover,” which backed the U.K. 12″ of “The Jam Was Moving.” A liner notes essay by Christian John Wikane completes the package.

The set will be available October 28, and you can order your copy here. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

October 4, 2011 at 10:33

Back Tracks: CHIC

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It’s a crime that when you talk about CHIC, many of the players who made up arguably the greatest band of the disco era aren’t alive to hear your words of praise. Bernard Edwards, CHIC’s bassist and co-producer, died in 1997; drummer Tony Thompson passed away in 2003. Nile Rodgers, guitarist, co-producer and keeper of the CHIC flame, could easily have met the same early fate had he not been lucky enough to discover the cancer that he’s been since late last year. (Rodgers, one of the best users of the Internet to connect with fans, has kept readers entertained and informed with his Walking on Planet C blog since the start of the year, and will release his memoir, Le Freak, in the fall.)

The other day at Second Disc HQ, we were reminded by our good friend Eric Luecking of Record Racks that another member of the CHIC Organization had passed away: Raymond Jones, who played piano and keyboards on “Le Freak,” “Good Times” and “We Are Family,” succumbed to pneumonia earlier this month at the too-young age of 52. (Jones also worked with the Tom Tom Club and Jeffrey Osbourne, writing “Stay with Me Tonight” for the latter.)

In honor of Jones and all the other members of the CHIC Organization who are not here to enjoy our expressions of love and respect for their music, today’s Back Tracks takes a look at the music of CHIC and the many reissues and compilations that have been released all over the world. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

July 20, 2011 at 17:43

Reissue Theory: Debbie Harry, “Rockbird”

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Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we reflect on notable albums and the reissues they could someday see. What does the most ridiculous celebrity meltdown at the moment have to do with the second solo LP by the leader of Blondie? The answer may shock you.

“Fools and trolls.” “Gnarly gnarlingtons.” “Winning!” The ongoing, eminently quotable, six-cylinder meltdown of Charlie Sheen is a bizarre conversation starter around the world. (Your mileage may vary of course: to this author, the whole thing is slowly decaying from funny to funny-sad – though I still stand by my earlier personal comments that Sheen is, indeed, the Mozart of crazy.)

The source of Sheen’s megalomania (other than, possibly, drugs) is a seething anger at Chuck Lorre, the prolific television producer and creator of the currently-shutterered Two and a Half Men, for which Sheen is the highest-paid actor on television. Lorre gained prominence as a writer and co-producer on Roseanne in the 1990s before creating hit sitcoms like Grace Under Fire, Dharma & Greg and The Big Bang Theory.

But creating high-rated television was not the first phase of Lorre’s professional life. No, Lorre first chased his muse through songwriting – and one of the end products was a run-in with Debbie Harry, on a song that, to quote the writer, “ended her solo career.”

The story of Rockbird is after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 2, 2011 at 14:52