Single Of The Week: Alfa Anderson – Perfectly Chic (Boomtang Remix) (Rammit Records)
If (already) familiar with these shores, I suppose you’ll probably have noticed what Chic‘s music means to us. From their countless gems to their productions for other artists such as Sister Sledge or Diana Ross. With the whole in an instantly identifiable sound. Therefore blending Nile Rodgers firing rhythmic guitar lines over Bernard Edwards‘ bumpin’ bass lines. But also Tony Thompson‘s drumming along with blossoming vocal parts. With thanks to singers like Norman Jean, Luci Martin and Alfa Anderson. If not Fonzi Thornton and Luther Vandross in the backing. In other words, the perfectly Chic period one could summarize with the memorable ‘Good Times’…
No need to say as to how we (always) wanted more of this. With Nile‘s recent successes along with Daft Punk for instance showing as to how we were not the only ones in this case. Well, the good news is that the ‘Former Lady Of Chic’, Alfa Anderson, is back with some serious material…
As a matter of fact, one would have hardly better come than with ‘Perfectly Chic’ as a title to describe it. A cut that initially saw the light last Summer as a part of her ‘Music From The Heart’ self-released debut-album. Seeing her brilliantly jammin’ along with Eluriel ‘Tinker’ Barfield (The Winans) on bass and Norma Jean in the backing vocals. Not to mention multi-instrumentalist Bert Price in charge of the production. Meanwhile Canadian team of remixers Boomtang bring it to the next level. Remaining true to the Chic original vibe, although turning it into how Chic could sound nowadays. This with the addition of a vocoderized part. The whole over a bassline somehow reminding of Kool & The Gang‘s ‘Get Down On It’.
‘Perfectly Chic’… Just what it says! With an additional mix courtesy of 83 West for the House heaz!
Please note: this is a low quality sound-file preview for promotional purposes only.
Download from Juno.
As far as she can remember, Augusta, GA native Alfa Anderson almost instinctively found herself a connection with music. Writing her first song by the age of 3 according to what her parents told her. With her mom who used to sing and play piano at home encouraging her and her friends to develop their singing during their Girl Scouts years.
A few years later, and Alfa eventually started playing saxophone. Because that was the only instrument that had been left by the time she found out there was a band. Not the most convincing experience for her though. Seeing her soon after jumpin’ on a more handy flute then the piccolo. With singing becoming her focus when joining the choir at the Paine College. Something she repeated at the Columbia University’s Teachers College when she moved to New York to pursue a Masters degree.
Livin’ in Harlem at the time, she hooked up with two of her homeboys from Atlanta who’d moved to the Big Apple. And together they formed a group. Then she joined another one – Lou Courtney & Buffalo Smoke – doin’ the backing vocals along with Ednah Holt who was to join Ritchie Family. The latter soon after introducing Alfa to friends of her by the likes of Fonzi Thornton. And from then Luther Vandross who would get her to join Chic who were lookin’ for background vocalists.
Two singles later – ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ and ‘Everybody Dance’ – and she would become the band’s lead singer along with Luci Martin. Replacing Norman Jean who left for contractual reason. Although the Chic Organization produced her solo album, featuring gems such as ‘Saturday’, ‘Having A Party’ and ‘Sorcerer’.
‘C’est Chic’, the band’s second album saw the light by the end of 1978. It featured ‘Chic Cheer’ which Faith Evans sampled back in 1998 on ‘Love Like This’. But also ‘I Want Your Love’ and ‘Happy Man’. Not to mention the multi-million selling ‘Le Freak’…
1979 was a quintessential year in the history of contemporary music as for the one of Chic. This with the release of their ‘Risqué’ album as highlighted by the seminal ‘Good Times’. A cut which influenced countless artists. From Sugarhill Gang on ‘Rappers Delight’ to Grandmaster Flash. But also Vaughan Mason & Crew (‘Bounce, Skate, Roll’). Not to mention Queen (‘Another Bites The Dust’), Captain Sensible (‘So What’). Or Blondie (‘Rapture’). Nile & Nard producing Sister Sledge‘s ‘We Are Family’ album. An offering that spanned the classics ‘He’s The Greatest Dancer’, ‘Lost In Music’ and its title track.
This period most likely marked Chic‘s absolute peak, with productions of them all over. From Sheila B Devotion‘s ‘Spacer’ to Diana Ross‘ ‘Upside Down’ to name a few. Not to mention Carly Simon‘s ‘Why’. As many tracks you might find in our 10 essential Chic productions. Be they together as on their respective owns. Sadly, the infamous Disco Demolition Night engendered bad consequences for Chic. The guys most likely missing to catch up with the electronic trend that appeared soon after in the production, as Nile said it in an interview we had back in March 1992. In other words, the ‘Perfectly Chic’ period had gone…
With the group soon after disbanding, Nile and Bernard met various successes on their respective sides. But a part of the magic had gone. They nevertheless made a come back, 9 years after the release of their 1983 ‘Believer’ album. This with a single ‘Chic Mystique’ with remixes courtesy of Masters At Work, Roger S and Brothers In Rhythm. But also an album – ‘Chicism’ – which would be the very last together. An album which featured the infectious ‘Your Love’ with remix by the likes of Nellee Hooper (Soul II Soul).
Alfa, then left home/groupless after the dissolution of Chic, became a member of Luther Vandross touring band between 1982 and 1987. Eventually landing her voice on albums of various artists. From Mick Jagger to Teddy Pendergrass. But also Gregory Hines, Jennifer Holliday and Jody Watley to name a few.
In the late 90’s, Anderson and her husband, Tinkr Barfield (The Winans), formed and produced Voices Of Shalom. A group who explored spiritual themes through uplifting original compositions. They released 2 albums, ‘Messages’ (1999) and ‘Daily Bread’ (2002). As well as a single called ‘What A Spirit’ (2005), which featured guest vocals courtesy of Lisa Fischer and Keith Anthony Fluitt.
Alfa reunited with Chic vocalists Luci Martin and Norma Jean Wright in 2010 on ‘My Lover’s Arms’. The trio was also joined by Lisa Fischer, who’d previously sung with Alfa in Vandross‘ band and Voices Of Shalom.
Produced by Tinkr Barfield, the track appeared on Tinkr B. & Lu-Fuki‘s ‘It Is What It Is’ (2011). The album included Alfa‘s lead vocals and songwriting contributions on ‘Money, Power’ and ‘The Song That Captures Your Heart’. Meanwhile laying the groundwork for her first solo single, ‘Former Lady 0f Chic’, two years after.
4 extra years would go before the release of Alfa‘s self-released ‘Music From The Heart’ debut-album. Seeing the lady paying vibrant props to Luther Vandross and Chic via cuts such as ‘When Luther Sings’ and ‘Perfectly Chic’.
And what a better answer to Chic‘s 2015 ‘I’ll Be There’ return single than… ‘Perfectly Chic’? A boiling hot gem given a new life with remixes courtesy of Boomtang and 83 West…