By 1983 the band CHIC was on its last legs, with the prevailing pop culture stance that the music they had championed for the better part of a decade – disco – was dead. Apparently, no one informed CHIC’s mastermind, guitarist and producer Nile Rodgers, of this fact; he was about to have one of the greatest years of his career – David Bowie’s Let’s Dance, which Rodgers had co-produced, was to provide Bowie with his greatest commercial success, with a potent combination of dance and rock grooves that audiences the world over positively flipped for.
Just a month before Let’s Dance was released, Rodgers dropped his first solo album, whose title Adventures in the Land of the Good Grove signified a lack of willingness on Rodgers’ part to walk away from the dancefloor, or from the music that had made him a top producer and first-call session guitarist. In fact, between his record and Bowie’s, Rodgers signaled that listeners’ feet would not stop moving on his watch – not if he had any say in the matter.
Consider this album, then as a kind of dance music manifesto. The title track throws down the gauntlet; through a ton of electronic percussion, Rodgers does indeed establish a good, tight groove. Rodgers’ singing is more an instrument than a focal point, in part because of the refrain (“Old man, I want to go to / The land of the good groove”) repeated so many times, one is hypnotized into hearing it as just a part of the sound. In the end, the song is about the simple pleasure of dancing, a topic with which Rodgers was intimately familiar.
Indeed, most of Adventures in the Land of the Good Groove is about dancing. “Beet” certainly is, with its drum-forward mix and Rodgers' rhythm guitar holding the otherwise spare instrumentation together.
“Rock Bottom,” naturally, features a heavy bass presence (courtesy Rodgers’ CHIC-mate Bernard Edwards) and a tasty guitar solo. Again, the point of the track is movement and connection with the groove; lyrically, there’s very little there. If you hear this and there’s a dance floor nearby, you gravitate toward it; if there isn’t, you’ll find yourself tapping your foot without much conscious thought.
Slow dance aficionados, worry not – Rodgers has you covered, as well. “My Love Song for You” is a mid-tempo slow jam duet with Sarah Dash that lets the lovers on the dance floor move in a little closer without needing to feel self-conscious about it.
But that is merely an interlude on a record that is very much about the magic that can be discovered during an evening of dancing, if only one takes the chance to step out and strut their stuff. As Rodgers sings, “It’s All in Your Hands.” Or, in this case, your feet. Let's dance, shall we?