Luther Vandross, Atlantic, Sledge discussed on The Rhino Podcast


How did you know when you recorded that when you record it, everybody dance? How did you know that you were onto something? I mean, obviously got played in a club. And you got reactions that we know that stories well told we had a pretty good instinct for what was happening in the clubs. We had seen a number of jazz artists that we were big fans of get hit records playing disco. And we thought, wow, this is pretty cool. We could play a style of music hold your head up high because it was cool and sophisticated chord changes. And I would do all the orchestration. And if you look at you know, the people playing on any chic record, it was always the cream of the crop of New York musicians. You know one day we will working for Luther Vandross. He was our boss, we cut our first record next thing. You know, we were his boss. He came out on the road with us. He taught us the whole vocal style. We got signed to the same label. Luther Vandross was signed to Atlantic. So he has to on Atlantic meter was his big as the first chic record. So we flipped the script, and he became our employees. So things will go in great for us. Right. From the start. We got signed to a singles deal. Only Bernard myself, we weren't called she we we made up the name after we got the deal we were only signed to a singles deal. So our record had to be a hit. So that style of orchestration that I was doing was across between what was going on with Barry, white and silver convention and stuff like that. But we didn't wanna go heavy heavy disco. We wanted our sound to really be about the ban about the rhythm section and really about the interplay between Bernardo with myself. I mean, you can hear all of the records really about the base in the guitar and the cool piano voicing, you know, like, the real cool, piano, pads and. Strings were important, but they weren't the focus. Unlike with Barry, white strings and his voice with a focus with us. It was the rhythm section. So I'm holding say she can my hand actually holding my original copy from back in the day. And I checked off some tracks things like Savoia fair and particularly at last I'm free, seven minutes and eight seconds. Yeah. So when people try to portray chic as a disco band. It was indeed about the composition about the tone about the sound. You're creating it wasn't really about disco. No, it wasn't about disco at all it was about the openness of disco. The fact that disco allow a ban like us. We thought of ourselves more like a cross between earth when and firing cooler and the gang more than we thought of ourselves like, you know, Serono or the village people. But you know, we love Ceron we love the village we love Donna summer. That's just not who we were. We were jazz musicians as sort of learned how to write pop songs like the people that we were, you know, proud of the Norman Connors Herbie, Hancock Herbie Mann people. Like that ROY Ayers, Joe Beck. All these people had big big dance records. And we thought we could have a. Dan, that would specialize in these sort of jazzy dance records, you only needed to boogie is an example. Yeah. Yeah. So by boogie, and I mean, a lot of bands with those type of things I mean, you think of all of the Philly stuff. He's all serious musicians. Who learned how to write really good pop songs. So that's what we were. And the only difference is that we went on the road. We gotta hit and we took it out there, and we were onstage with the hardcore funk bands, the same reaction that I had when I saw rocky music. That's the reaction people had when they saw Sheikh when they saw that we had girls on saxophone trumpet for girls on violins people had never seen that in our MB. And it was like unbelievable when we were out there with like some of the most hardcore funk bands in the world. It was pretty exciting to be a band during those early days of I guess. Maybe the last days of disco because unfortunately, those groups didn't go out and tour so they never had a real presence. I think that if those groups had performed the whole disco sucks. Movement would never really brought them down. You know, if most of those bands were like chic and could go out and play. I mean, hell we can go play any day of the week with you know, the stones or kiss any of those bands. We'd have been fine as a math right now. I always tell my manager. How come we're not opening for like? Like Elton, John Paul McCartney and and artists like that. 'cause we certainly can hold our own. So we wanted to be with a rock bands. Matter of fact, the rock bands were some of our best friends. That's how we wound up producing Blondie. That's how I wound up producing Bowie. The beef fifty twos. All those bands new chic as players. We were not just studio guys. We were people go out and perform I would be remiss if we didn't go down the road with Katie, Debbie, Kim and Joni. Yeah. So it was the head of Atlantic asked you to work your magic with them right because they were literally family to him and that became the signpost one of the most iconic songs of the era and for that matter today. Yeah. As a matter of fact, what happened is that the head of Atlantic was Jerry Greenberg at the time. And he thought that we really had studio fifty four fairy dust in a bottle, and that we sprinkle it anybody. He didn't offer us this sledge actually offered us the role. Stones and Bette midler and Bernard. And I thought well how we gonna produce the Rolling Stone. We do tell Keith and make what the sing in play. We had a formula. And we we knew that off formula work. So we said to Jerry instead of giving us somebody famous. Why don't you give somebody that's not famous and weaken make them fame, and we weren't cocky, we just we just knew what was happening in the streets. We said if we can prove to you what we can do wouldn't we be more valuable than just working with somebody. That's already bringing in money. What if we can take somebody that's not bringing in any money and make them happen? So he told us about this group. Call sister, sledge that was like family to the label and he dictated basically, what would be the lyrics to. We are family to us. He talked about how when they come in. Visit the labeled a stick together and this and that. We went home. And we looked at our notes we were trying to act professional. We had no idea what we were doing. We had instinct, and we had a desire, but we didn't know how producers handle themselves in meetings. We didn't know anything. We just walked up to the office and tried to act like we'll professional producers because we had only produced chic and we'd only produced Norma Jean right? So when he told us about sister, sledge, we just superimpose what he had said onto them believe it or not we never met sister sledge until they came to the studio to sing. And we basically had the whole album written and conceptualize before they walked in the door when they walked in the door. They saw scribbling out. The final words we are family, and they got a little upset with us. What are you guys doing? We hold on. We're almost finished. And. Finishing? We're family. And next thing. You know, we basically played their record. Coz when we did the demos. We had already sang the song. So it was like, oh, you guys got to do is sing on top of us. And we got it. How

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