Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Chic - Believer

Tomorrow (November 14th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Believer, the seventh studio album from Chic. It charted at number 14 in the Netherlands. This was the group’s final album on the Atlantic Records label and the final featuring the classic line-up (Nile Rodgers, Bernard Edwards, Alfa Anderson, Luci Martin and Tony Thompson). Assisting Chic on the record were Rob Sabino (on keyboards) and Brenda White, Fonzi Thornton and Curtis King (all on vocals).

The title track opens side one. The overly optimistic “Believer” features Rodgers’ ricocheting guitar right at the start, setting up a solid dance groove. This one has classic Chic written all over it.

“You Are Beautiful”, the second single, reached number 6 in the Netherlands. The song has an electronic/robotic sound to it, thanks to the keyboards and the vocoder vocals at the start. I can see how the band was leaning towards the new wave trends of the time with this one. Edwards lays down a smooth bass groove here.

Things slow down a bit with “Take a Closer Look”, a song about second chances. Anderson and Martin’s vocal harmonies on the chorus are the spotlight here.

“Give Me the Lovin’” was the first single; it went to number 57 on the US Billboard R&B chart. With the drum machines and the synths, this one sounds like it could have easily come off records like Madonna’s debut; I could easily see deejays mixing this one with dance floor favorites like “Lucky Star” or “Holiday”.

Side two starts with the pounding beat of Thompson‘s drums on “Show Me Your Light”. The vocoder is back again as well on this encouraging anthem.

The B-side to the first and second singles was “You Got Some Love for Me”. I like the stripped back instrumental opening; it has an old school, early 70’s sound to it. Then Rodgers and Sabino both get turns at instrumental “verses” between the repeated choruses. It gives the song an interesting, jazzy structure.

The medium tempo “In Love with Music” was the B-side to the third single.

“Party Everybody”, the closing track, was released as the third single; it peaked at number 43 in the Netherlands. This one goes right to the early days of the rap genre with a sound reminiscent of Kurtis Blow or Grandmaster Flash. As a big fan of the old school, I really like the track.

As I noted on my review of the 1978 album C ‘est Chic (click here for that review), I was into Chic early on in my teenaged years. However, Believer falls into the category of “how is it I never heard this one before”. I think the lack of commercial exposure here in the US kept this one a big secret; outside of some R&B-centric stations and dance clubs the songs here likely saw little airplay. And that is a shame as this one is a pretty good record.

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