Between 1977 and 1980 Chic produced some of the most successful and memorable music of the disco era. Their sublime blend of soul, funk and disco took a genre not best remembered for musical innovation and longevity to new heights. This 83-minute concert DVD, recorded in April 1996 at Tokyo’s famed Budokan Stadium, was destined to be the group’s last performance, since sadly co-founder Bernard Edwards died shortly afterward, from rapid-onset pneumonia.
Boasting top-notch sound, if only so-so picture quality and less than stellar live event direction and shot selection, the concert features superb, extended versions of the group’s greatest hits, including “Le Freak,” “Dance, Dance, Dance,” “I Want Your Love” and “Good Times.” All in all, there are nine tunes on Chic: Live at the Budokan, and the group — outfitted in fashions circa 1988 — is joined by Sister
Sledge for stellar performances of that group’s two biggest hits, “He’s the Greatest Dancer” and “We Are Family,” both of which were written
and produced by Chic’s Nile Rodgers and Edwards. Even if “We Are Family” is, for me, forever tainted by its association with the end credits of the dreadful Lethal Weapon IV, it’s a blast to see these musicians try to breathe some fresh energy back into it. Improbably enough, Guns ‘N’ Roses guitarist Slash
also makes a guest appearance, dropping guitar back-up and a monstrous solo jam on five-week chart-topping hit “Le
Freak.” Turns out he and Rodgers are friends… who knew?
Housed in a regular plastic Amray case, Chic: Live at the Budokan comes presented on a region-free disc in full screen, with English language Dolby digital 5.1 and 2.0 stereo audio tracks, the latter of which is not billed on the DVD’s back cover. Bonus materials consist of biographies of Chic, Sister Sledge and Slash, a Chic discography, and brief, minute-long, on-camera introductions and post-concert comments by Rodgers, the latter segment of which is subtitled in Japanese. There are also two article tributes to Bernard Edwards that scroll in slow-play fashion; the first is from Rolling Stone‘s Geoffrey Hines, from June, 1996, and the second is from Bass Player Magazine‘s Chris Jisi, from August, 1996. Finally, there’s a billed “concert commentary” with Rodgers, but it’s not a full-length, discrete audio track. Instead, if this option is selected, the concert cuts back in awkward, break-away fashion to brief song introductions from Rodgers. Sadly, this is all mostly empty fluff, or statistical self-promotion; he doesn’t even give good anecdotal backstory, like how “Le Freak”‘s memorable signature chorus came from being denied admittance to a club, and was actually a stand-in for a sing-song response of “Fuck you!” Kudos for the attempts at added-value material, but if you’re not going to bring some grade-A material, it’s really still just filler. To purchase the DVD via Amazon, click here. B (Concert) C+ (Disc)