Nile Rodgers has released “I’ll Be There,” the lead single from the first Chic album in 23 years, It’s About Time. The track, a collaboration with house duo the Martinez Brothers, fits into the band’s classic disco-funk mold, utilizing a four-on-the-floor groove, soulful vocal harmonies, brash horn blasts and Rodgers’ elastic rhythm guitar.
The song’s music video, available below, was directed by Inez & Vindooh and features supermodel Karlie Kloss along with old-school footage of Chic performing on Soul Train.
On his website, Rodgers explains that the song originated from a session for Sister Sledge and was titled after discovering the body of Chic co-founder Bernard Edwards, who died in 1996 following one of the band’s concerts in Japan. “I said, ‘Now, I can be there for you in death, the way you were there for me in life,'” he writes.
The March 20th release for “I’ll Be There” was strategic, tying into the vernal equinox. “It’s this great double entendre to put out a record on the day where day and night are of equal length but because of a solar eclipse, it changes day into night for a bit,” the musician said in an album documentary premiered by Rolling Stone earlier this month.
At 5 p.m. EST today, Chic will live-stream their concert from London’s Roundhouse via Yahoo Screen. “Back in the Old School,” the slick B-side for “I’ll Be There,” is also available to stream via Spotify. Listen below.
It’s About Time – the first Chic album since 1992’s Chic-ism – originated in 2010, when Rodgers received a box of tapes filled with unfinished Chic material. Hearing the recordings – which featured vocals from the late Edwards and Luther Vandross, among others – gave Rodgers the drive to finish the material. A few months later, the guitarist-producer learned he had aggressive prostate cancer, which put the album’s theme of “time” into sharp clarity.
“I’ve always had a lot to say,” said Rodgers, now cancer-free, in the documentary. “But it’s always worked best when I say it through music. So when I thought about where I was at this point in my life, all I kept thinking about was time.”