Live at the Budokan

by: Chic

In the '90s, two albums resulted from various reunions of Chic's co-founders/co-leaders Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards. The first was 1992's Chic-Ism, a decent though uneven studio project that had its moments but fell short of the excellence of classics like C'est Chic and Risqué. The other was Live at the Budokan, a gem that was recorded in Tokyo, Japan in April 1996 for the JT Super Producers series. Sadly, this concert would be Edwards' last live appearance before his death, and for that reason, Budokan would be historically important even if Chic had given a mediocre performance that night. But this CD is far from mediocre. Rodgers and Edwards oversee an excellent band that includes, among others, singers Sylver Logan Sharp and Jill Jones, and drummer Omar Hakim -- and the sparks fly in a major way when this Chic lineup turns its attention to late-'70s favorites like "Good Times" (which is combined with the Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight"), "Le Freak," "Dance Dance Dance" and "I Want Your Love." Listeners will notice that on-stage these songs have a tougher, harder edge than they did in studio, and the same thing happens with the Sister Sledge classics "He's the Greatest Dancer" and "We Are Family" (both of which find Sister Sledge joining Chic on-stage). An interesting surprise comes when Chic moves into rock territory and joins forces with Steve Winwood and Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash for Jimi Hendrix's "Stone Free." When Rodgers was preparing to release Live at the Budokan on his Sumthing Else label, he decided against adding any overdubs or smoothing any of the rough edges. Clearly, he made the right decision. ~ Alex Henderson

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