Don’t Laugh – Just File This In The Category Of “What Year Is This Anyway?”

One of The Bee Gees achieves a major milestone, Donna Summer tops the Billboard Dance/Disco chart and the group Chic releases a new single (with an album soon to follow).

That’s a headline you would only expect to see in 1978 or ‘79 right?

Except all those things happened in the past two weeks and it’s 2018 – forty years after disco’s peak and when many of the key players named above have long since passed on.

Here’s how they all recently made news.

The legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Nile Rodgers of Chic

First, two weeks ago, Nile Rodgers and Chic debuted two new tracks that will be included on their new comeback album to be released in September titled It’s About Time, called “Boogie All Night” and “Till The World Falls,” with the latter being made available on Spotify.  “World” features Vic Mensa, Mura Masa, and Cosha (aka Bonzai). It was produced by Rodgers and Masa, and written by Rodgers, Masa, Mensa, Anderson .Paak, anaïs and NAO.  (Btw, none of those people were born when Rodgers first charted with Chic over 40 years ago.)

Of course, Nile Rodgers is the only remaining member of the classic Chic lineup, with co-founder and creative partner Bernard Edwards having passed away from pneumonia in 1996 and drummer Tony Thompson succumbing to cancer in 2001.

Chic’s new album will replicate – albeit with more diversity – the model-laden cover of their first album, 1977’s Chic.

Original Chic ladies Norma Jean Wright, Alfa Anderson and Luci Martin (not the ladies on the albums shown above) are all still alive and have toured together over the years as the Ladies of Chic, but they haven’t been officially part of the group since it originally broke up in 1983.  Their first replacements, Sylver Logan Sharp and Jenn Thomas – who appeared on Chic’s first reunion (and last) album Chic-ism – have also moved on.

Neither of the just-released Chic songs have reached the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart (formerly known as the disco chart) yet. 

But another song by disco royalty certainly has. 

It’s a 2018 remix of queen Donna Summer’s classic No. 1 smash “Hot Stuff.”  It moves this week from No. 2 to No. 1 on the 50-position dance chart, marking a return to the top after logging seven weeks there in 1979 in its conjoined listing with “Bad Girls.”

From Billboard: “The reworked classic was remixed by Dave Aude, Ralphi Rosario & Erick Ibiza and DJ Spen & Michele Chiavarini, among others. Summer’s original “Hot Stuff”/”Bad Girls” logged seven frames at No. 1 in 1979.”

Donna Summer died of cancer in 2012, but she was one of the most decorated disco/dance artists of her day, achieving four No. 1 hits on the Hot 100 in the span of twelve months between Nov. 1978 and Nov. 1979 (“MacArthur Park,” “Hot Stuff,” “Bad Girls” and the Barbara Streisand duet “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)”), with another (“Dim All The Lights”) just missing the top by peaking at No. 2 during that span.

Arguably, there was only one act hotter than Donna Summer in 1978-79.

That would be The Bee Gees, the famous trio of Gibb brothers who, in an 18-month span between January 1978 and June 1979, racked up six No. 1 singles – four of them in the disco/dance category (“Stayin’ Alive,” “Night Fever,” “Tragedy” and “Love You Inside Out”).

The group’s lone surviving member, eldest brother Barry Gibb, 71, was knighted by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace on June 27, in a ceremony recognizing his and his late brothers’ contributions to music and philanthropic causes.

Sir Barry Gibb – of The Bee Gees – being knighted by Prince Charles on June 27, 2018, at Buckingham Palace.

His brothers – the fraternal twins Maurice and Robin – died of heart failure in 2003 and cancer in 2012, respectively. 

The Bee Gees’ last pop singles chart appearance in America was more than twenty years ago in 1998.  Their last No. 1 was 1979’s “Love You Inside Out,” a song that never actually charted on Billboard’s disco list.  In fact, contrary to popular belief, only five of The Bee Gees’ songs made the disco chart, with only one – “You Should Be Dancing” – reaching the top. 

Fittingly, unlike the latest accomplishments by Donna Summer (albeit in a posthumously remixed form) and Nile Rodgers/Chic (in a nearly completely altered form), the Barry Gibb milepost certainly isn’t a signal that ‘70s disco artists are making a comeback in 2018.

But, coupled with headline-grabbing feats by chart contemporaries Chic and Donna Summer – in the same two-week period no less – Barry Gibb’s knighting certainly adds to the (chic) mystique of it all. 

So congratulations to Barry – err, Sir Barry Gibb, Nile Rodgers/Chic and, of course, the late, great Donna Summer!

Donna Summer topped this past week’s dance chart – the successor to Billboard’ Disco chart.

DJRob

Historical PS:  The Bee Gees, Donna Summer and Chic were the only acts to each have multiple No. 1 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart in 1979.  They had eight between them, in order:

  1. “Too Much Heaven” – Bee Gees
  2. “Le Freak” – Chic (returned from Dec. 1978)
  3. “Tragedy” – Bee Gees
  4. “Hot Stuff” – Donna Summer
  5. “Love You Inside Out” – Bee Gees
  6. “Bad Girls” – Donna Summer
  7. “Good Times” – Chic
  8. “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” – Donna Summer – Barbara Streisand
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4 thoughts on “Don’t Laugh – Just File This In The Category Of “What Year Is This Anyway?””

  1. Great era of music (70’s) and it’s refreshing to know that the artists and their music are still relevant today.

  2. The bad news, of course, is that all of the acts noted at the end of the post, except Chic, likely benefited from Polygram having a shady relationship with Bill Wardlow, the chart manager at Billboard. Maybe WEA did, too.

    1. Agreed. You should see my article commemorating the 40th Anniversary of “Baker Street” for more on the Billboard (Wardlow)/Polygram controversy.

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