Chic feat. Nile Rodgers: I’ll Be There/Back in the Old School

Posted March 22, 2015 by in Disco



3.5/ 5


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Writer: ,
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Genre: Disco, funk
Producer: Nile Rodgers, Bernard Edwards
Writer: Nile Edwards, Bernard Edwards
Label: Warner Bros.
Format: Digital download, vinyl
Release Date: 20 March 2014


A powerful return to disco nostalgia in a time when the country is craving more "Uptown Funk"


A bit repetitious and too focused on hi-tech "street cred" mixing

Jubilant disco and funk take over Chic’s newest (and not-so new) single

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

Jubilant disco and funk take over Chic’s newest (and not-so new) single

Nile Rodgers, the living half of the Chic powerhouse, dropped instrumental segments of “ I’ll Be There” a few weeks ago. Instantly, you could hear Sister Sledge’s “Got to Love Somebody” inside the riffs. And that you should; a lost vault mix taken from earlier sessions of the 1980 song were used to make the new song. So that means you’re hearing valuable drumming from Tony Thompson and killer bass work from Bernard Edwards. There’s pieces of vintage Chic lyricism also tucked inside (“Everybody dance,” “do-do-do”). As an extra perk to Chic connoisseurs, original members Alfa Anderson, Luci Martin and part-time background singer Fonzi Thornton reunited with the ghosts of Chic – even Luther – to make the new song. Stylistically, it is just remnants and pieces of leftover grooves and exposes a continuous riff from “Love Somebody.” It’s a bit rougher and grittier in style, but doesn’t exactly come off as being a piece of bold original work. Plus the chorus is possibly the most repetitive and simplistic in all of Chic’s history. The tech-driven yearnings of adding DJ gimmicks provided by the Martinez Brothers are also transparent, including vocoder and echo sound effects. It’s not completely necessary, but it does feel as if it’ll crossover to the Pitbull demographic.

Thanks to the lyrics, Rodgers tells a story that prop up the disco narrative, the glory days of Chic and one of the finest love letters about reminiscing: “I don’t want to live in the past, but it’s a nice place to visit. And if you come along, I’ll be there.” But this is still a Chic tune. You can feel the energy all over the bold horns, sweeping strings and inside Rodgers’ recognizable guitar riffing.

What’s probably more interesting is actually the B-side of the single, “Back in the Old School.” It falls in the same category of nostalgic Prince jamming and uses a smart dose of flanger sound effects for extra punch. As unconventional of a tune it is to the pop world (since it is absent of a single verse), “Back to the Old School” showcases a great deal of radio playability. Fun phrases (“Lose control, we got soul”), a cute sax solo and snippets of gospel organ can even be heard in the background. The seductive narration by Rodgers seems a bit awkward and forced, but there’s no denying the party grooves tucked inside. If this is an indicator of what the next Chic work will sound like, there’s probably another assortment of sounds on the horizon for new generation hipsters to sample.

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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