September 24, 2018 Nile Rodgers & Chic – It’s About Time (Album Review)
Working with Sister Sledge, Diana Ross, Philip Bailey, Thompson Twins, Sheena Easton, David Bowie, Bryan Ferry, Duran Duran, Madonna, INXS, Britney Spears, Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams, and so many more, Nile Rodgers is one of the most prolific, successful musical producers of the last four decades. A record producer, songwriter, musician, composer, arranger, and guitarist famed for his “chucking” rhythms, there is so much one can say about Rodgers, yet probably still miss every accolade or attribute of who he is.
Amidst all his musical adventures, he also leads his own band, Chic, famously known for lighting up dance floors through the late ’70s. Responsible for mega hits such as 1977’s “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)” and “Everybody Dance,” 1978’s “Le Freak” along with 1979’s “Good Times,” just to name a few, Chic should earn a rightful place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after eleven nominations. Now, Nile Rodgers & Chic are set to return with a brand new album on Friday, September 28, 2018 through Virgin EMI.
Their ninth overall studio album, It’s About Time, is relatively straight-forward title wise considering it is their first album of new material in over 25 years. Also marking the first Chic album Rodgers has worked on since the loss of his musical partner and friend in 1996, Bernard Edwards, the new music could not come at a better time. For one, Rodgers has overcome a lot in recent years, including an aggressive prostate cancer diagnosed in 2010. Fighting back and beating the cancer, since then, in 2015 alone, Rodgers would launch FOLD Festival (FreakOut! Let’s Dance), while also releasing Chic’s first single in more than 23 years, “I’ll Be There,” created by Rodgers from original Chic outtake tapes from the ’70s, features original band members’, Edwards and Drummer Tony Thompson, as well as Vocalists Alfa Anderson and Luci Martin.
An exciting time to be alive for Rodgers, It’s About Time is a piece of work which came together via various recording sessions in cities around the world. Through it all, the album began and ended with mixing/mastering at the world famous Abbey Road Studios with Rodgers as the Chief Creative Adviser. With all that in mind, the album consists of 10 tracks that unify the brilliance of Rodgers’ production and song composition style with a modern flair. What does that mean? It means you get the classic irresistible dance beats and rhythms from the ’70s transported in a time machine to 2018, yet they sound fresh and not one bit dated.
Someone everyone wants to work with in a record studio, Rodgers assembled a fantastic list of veteran and newer A-list artists to contribute their talents to It’s About Time. To round it up quickly, the album features Mura Masa, Cosha, Vic Mensa, NAO, Craig David, Stefflon Don, Lunch Money Lewis, Hailee Steinfeld, Philippe Sais, Emeli Sandé, Sir Elton John, and Lady Gaga. Is that enough of a cast to wake you out of a coma and pay attention? One should hope so! If that were not enough, among those who helped handle the production was Teddy Riley, key creator of the New Jack Swing sound of the mid ’80s.
Yet still, names on paper are merely that. Does It’s About Time deliver the goods? That would be a resounding yes if you dig catchy, body moving, upbeat R&B dance music with flair. In fact, Chic wastes no time in getting you moving on “Till The World Falls,” a retro sounding tune with a killer bass and guitar backbone. Matched with wonderful harmonized vocals, it is a perfect start to the fun that lays ahead. From there, “Boogie All Night,” “Sober,” “Do Ya Wanna Party,” “Dance With Me” and “I Dance My Dance” keep the energy level through the roof. Amidst all the partying, “Sober” was a great selection as a single, being the perfect marriage of the aforementioned New Jack Swing of old with modern textures, all while featuring Craig David and Stefflon Don.
Hitting the spot and keeping the mojo flowing, a new groove emerges with “State Of Mine (It’s About Time).” An instrumental cut, it is as retro as it gets, but damn does it sound good. Envision some cool, smooth, funky soundtrack music, that is “State Of Mine (It’s About Time)!” Then on the more soulful R&B end, “Queen” plays out a story of a woman from being daddy’s little girl to someone’s sweet 16, to later on, making someone a very happily married man. Featuring both Elton John and Emeli Sandé, it is a touching ballad-esque song that would make anyone who believes a lady should be treated with love and respect smile. Hey, chivalry, love, and romance are not dead just yet!
Saving the biggest surprise for last, Rodgers breaks out the 1978 classic “I Want Your Love,” turns up the beat for 2018, and invites Lady Gaga along for the ride. A wonderful modern rendition of the track, it sounds delightful and is a wonderful tribute to the legacy of Chic and the late great Bernard Edwards. Then, with one last trick up his sleeve, Rodgers drops a killer version of “Sober,” New Jack vibe and all thanks to Teddy Riley. Think Blackstreet and Bobby Brown spun together in one song and you have this remixed edition.
Overall, It’s About Time is one hell of an album that flows like water from start to finish. It has it all – fantastic production, super catchy hooks, funk and style. This is what R&B and Dance should sound like! Eager to hear what is scheduled to be Chic’s tenth studio album some time in 2019, CrypticRock gives It’s About Time 4.5 out of 5 stars.