Saturday, December 14, 2013

Nile Rodgers - Adventures in the Land of the Good Groove

Earlier this year (in March) marked the thirtieth anniversary of Adventures in the Land of the Good Groove, the first solo album by singer-songwriter-producer Nile Rodgers. Joining him on the record were Chic alum Bernard Edwards (bass), Tony Thompson (drums), Jeremy Steele (guitar), Raymond Jones (piano), Rob Sabino (keyboards) and numerous backing vocalists.

Side one opens with “The Land of the Good Groove”, the album’s first single. First, we get the ricocheting percussion rhythms, followed by the addition of Rodgers’ vocals and guitar.

The second single was “Yum-Yum”, a pulse-pounding dance jam about getting some action. If this one did not get a ton of airplay, I am guessing it was because of the chorus lines. Compared to some today’s music, its slang usage is mild indeed. I found it to be a fun, non-threatening number.

With its odd spelling, “Beet” is very much about an irresistible music rhythm enjoyed by people in all lifestyles.

“Get Her Crazy” was the B-side to the second single. This dance floor chant all about exciting someone on a purely primal, erotic level.

Side two starts with “It’s All In Your Hands” which centers on surrendering to another completely, physically and emotionally.

“Rock Bottom” takes on a bit more a rocking edge to it while it portrays what comes after hitting an all-time low point.

Things slow down a bit with “My Love Song For You”, the only ballad in the bunch. Sarah Dash joins Rodgers on this romantic duet.

“Most Down”, the B-side to the first single, closes the record. It has a very slinky rhythm to it that implies a slightly discomforting familiarity. I like the catchy, cascading percussion on this one.

While Nile Rodgers himself was not completely satisfied with the record (as noted in his autobiography), a number of reviewers and industry folks (including David Bowie) praised it. This was my first listen to Adventures in the Land of the Good Groove, and I have to side with those who had good things to say about it. I really liked this record a lot and instantly downloaded it for my music library.


mls said...

Niles Rodgers is a musical genius. I don't think this album is terrible, but it has two problems: 1) Nile isn't a great singer, and 2) it ain't Chic.

My favorite tracks are Land Of The Good Groove, Beet, Rock Bottom, and Most Down.

My complete take:

HERC said...

Nile's publicist has been busy since 2010. First, the CHIC Organization box set came out. Then came the ultimately disappointing autobiography. And then this year with Daft Punk and "Get Lucky", his profile was all the way turnt up past eleven. The record companies pounced: a set of original Chic 12"s on vinyl, a digital Studio Albums Collection and not one but two multi-artist anthologies titled Up All Night! It comes as somewhat of a missed opportunity that his two solo albums weren't given the super deluxe edition treatment.

If CHIC is not inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame this time around, there is absolutely no use in even having a Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.

Where were we?

Oh yeah, in the Land Of The Good Groove. There are enough interesting riffs and grooves to fill a couple maybe even three songs but the drugged out at the time Rodgers unwisely sprinkled them across the album's eight tracks. CHIC was always sophisticated funk, the kind of uptown getdown that was both sexy and classy. Left to his own devices, Nile's "solo" stuff (c'mon, he still had Nard and Tony as he did more often than not on all of his efforts) was neither sexy nor classy. It comes off like a failed attempt to beat Prince and Rick James at their own game of stone cold sexy when he's not even in their league. (Gonna type sexy a few more times: sexy, sexy, sexy.)

One of my great Nile Rodgers what if's is what if he had produced an Earth Wind & Fire album when they were both in their 1978-1982 heyday?