By 1979, disco group Chic had long proven themselves adept at lighting up dancefloors with funky hits such as the US No.1 Le Freak and the amorous thrust of I Want Your Love. Fronted by guitar maestro Nile Rodgers and rubber-fingered bassist Bernard Edwards, the band had already sold millions of records worldwide by the time they released their signature song, Good Times, that summer. Winning even more plaudits from critics and musical contemporaries for their phenomenal mix of swinging R&B and ever-winding funk grooves, the song would go on to become a cornerstone in the development of hip-hop. This is the story of how that came to pass…
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“The bassline never worked, until we did Good Times”
As the lead single from their third album, Risqué, Good Times was not only one of the best Chic songs yet, but a pop-culture milestone that could easily be regarded as one of the most influential singles of all time. Released on 4 June 1979, the song was an instant party anthem that topped the charts and inspired countless imitators, from outspoken UK punk-rockers to Bronx-based MCs emerging from New York’s early hip-hop scene.
Nile Rodgers later recalled meeting up with engineer Bob Clearmountain at the New York City recording studio The Power Station, in downtown Manhattan, where the song came together remarkably quickly. “I wrote Good Times the morning we recorded it,” the guitarist told Uncut magazine, recalling how bassist Bernard Edwards turned up late “like a puppy dog with his tail between his legs”.
Having mapped out the arrangement to perfection, there was still scope for Edwards to lay down the song’s iconic bass riff. One of the best 70s basslines, the immediately recognisable hook had been bubbling away ever since the duo magicked it out of thin air during their time together as The Big Apple Band in the early 70s. “We had tried it and tried it and it never worked, until we did Good Times,” Rodgers later told the UK’s Official Charts Company. Now, however, they found it meshed perfectly with their new song’s joyous sense of uplift.