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May/June 2018

by Rob Burns

Deep Thinking: Addicted To Chic

by Rob Burns

Deep Thinking: Addicted To Chic

As mentioned in previous Deep Thinking columns, I have always admired the bass playing of the late Bernard Edwards (1952–1996), one of the co-founders founders of Chic, a seminal disco band of the late 1970s and the early ’80s.  This issue’s bass example is one of his lines played for Robert Palmer (1949–2003), a fantastic singer and songwriter who worked in many famous bands and with several top producers, including Edwards who produced the song I have transcribed.

Addicted To Love is Palmer at his ‘rockiest’, although he was also at home with soul, pop, reggae, and funk (check out his work with Little Feat and The Meters, or any other songs from his impressive discography).


The drums on Addicted To Love were played by Edward’s Chic bandmate Tony Thompson, who always wanted to be in Led Zeppelin. (You can hear that in the track and on Chic’s records.) His wish came true when he stood in with the Zeps at Live Aid in 1985.

deep thinking addicted to chic
All in all, Edwards and Thompson drive the track with its solid 4/4 pattern, but they also maintain a relatively slow tempo making it heavier. The bassline, while deep and pounding, is quite simple and consists of notes mostly taken from our old friend, the minor pentatonic scale. There is an eighth note (quaver) rest at the beginning of each verse bar, perhaps indicating a slight reggae influence. The main verse pattern is played four times before the song moves to a pre-chorus during which Edwards is firmly playing eighth note ‘pushes’ into bars. These are also accented by Thompson.

Bars 14 and 15 require some alternate string picking as Edwards plays a Dorian orientated riff with a low A minor based figure that also features the major sixth, F#, and the flat seventh, G, that moves up to a high A. In the final bar of the chorus, the sustained D from bar 18 carries on for a quarter note (crotchet) in bar 19 with a high F# on string one fret 11 (a major tenth). This is before Edwards punches out the two final E quarter notes telling us we are going to the second verse and the A minor pentatonic riff. You can hear the track on YouTube, check it out with the volume turned up. On my transcription, it says four bars rest before the bass comes in during which you will also hear power chords on guitar played by Andy Taylor of Duran Duran. The ladies in the video weren’t his actual band!

Dr. Rob Burns is an Associate Professor in Music at the University of Otago in Dunedin. As a former professional studio bassist in the UK, he performed and recorded with David Gilmour, Pete Townsend, Jerry Donahue, Isaac Hayes, Sam and Dave, James Burton, Ian Paice and Jon Lord, Eric Burdon and members of Abba. He played on the soundtracks on many UK television shows, such as Red Dwarf, Mr. Bean, Blackadder, Not the Nine O’Clock News and Alas Smith and Jones. Rob is currently a member of Dunedin bands Subject2change and The Verlaines

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