The headline of Paul Grein’s interview with Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers in the December 15, 1979 issue of Billboard said it all: “New Chic Game Plan: No Disco.” Bassist Edwards and guitarist Rodgers were partners in songwriting, arranging, and leading the band that had spent three years apotheosizing the disco style. They planned to “get back to writing heavier ballads, rock, and R&B,” said Edwards. They’d already been working on their next single for a while; at one point a Bette Midler collaboration was on the table. “We wanted to work with a white artist so people could stop tagging us as black producers or disco producers,” Rodgers said. “You can't make any money with that label.” Edwards added: “The public puts you in a category and decides that you're a disco group, so obviously if disco dies you have to be concerned.”
The idea that disco “died” has undergone a lot of revisionism over the years; 35 years later we take for granted the acceleration of the pop-culture timeline, and the idea that trend cycles moved much more slowly then. But this wasn’t a case of Chic reinventing themselves after several years dormant – the band was ditching disco a mere four months past their most recent number one U.S. pop hit “Good Times” (from the comparably successful album Risqué). Yet the need to push past public perception was paramount – the record’s week at the top had come a mere month after the infamous Disco Demolition Night at Chicago’s Comiskey Park. That event was the first domino in the U.S. music biz’s wholesale divestment of “disco” – never mind that many of its biggest successes over the next few years, from Flashdance to Thriller, were disco in all but name.