Saturday, 30 July 2011

Chic - I Want Your Love (1979/ No. 4/ 11 weeks/ Atlantic)

Hearing this song in its original March 1979 top ten context on Pick of the Pops is an instructive experience. Surrounding it are many records that I really like, and could easily write about instead (The Players Association, Squeeze, The Real Thing, Elvis Costello, Gloria Gaynor) but even so, this immediately stands apart, as a more serious and higher order of being than anything alongside it. Why should this be?

I'm not sure that there have ever been another group of musicians who I react to quite as deeply as I do with Chic. Is it the bass or the guitar that's leading the tune? The thing really is dependent on the interplay between them... Bernard Edwards' bassline seems to slow down time, make the experience more sonorous and make the song a really autonomous world that the listener is inhabiting - and then Nile Rogers' guitar keeps things moving, frisky. Both instruments are always playing to each other as much as combining to create a tune. You're following two different lines of feeling that are entwining around each other. And then the drumming gives the whole thing a pulse.

What is unique about this is that there is so much going on in this music, so much fascinating and joyous detail, and yet it seems so spacious and uncluttered. The arrangement is clever, too, strings, brass and bells are all thrillingly deployed but very sparingly used.

And what a song this is! You could perform it a capella and it would still be pretty devastating;

Do you feel ?
Like you ever want ?
To try my love ?
And see how well it fits?
Baby can't you see?
When you look at me
I can't kick this feelin'
When it hits
All alone
In my bed at night
I grab my pillow
And squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze it tight
I think of you
And I dream of you
All the time
What am I gonna do?

The song that supports all of this magnificence is so simple, so unembellished, that it is always an uneasy, personal thing to hear, no matter where or when you hear it, as if its being sung directly to you, or you're being made to imagine yourself singing it.

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