In 1981, a lot of rock & rollers were claiming that the disco era was officially over. Disco, of course, never really died – a lot of the dance-pop, house music, Hi-NRG, and Latin freestyle that was recorded in the '80s and '90s was essentially disco – but as far as many of the radio stations and record company A&R men of 1981 were concerned, disco was dead. And that was bad news for Chic, a group closely identified with the disco era. Even though a lot of Chic's work had as much to do with funk and soul as it did with the Euro-disco sound, Chic was unable to live down its reputation as a disco group. But Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards gave it a try with 1981's Take It Off, an admirable, if uneven, project that finds the group downplaying the Euro-disco elements.
Given the backwoods surrealism and shifting musical textures of most of his work, Jim White is not a guy who often comes off as playful or joyous, but those are two words that easily describe White's collaboration with the Athens, Georgia roots band the Packway Handle Band, 2014's Take It Like a Man. White and the Packway Handle Band are mutual admirers, and when White stepped in to produce an album for the group, he brought along a set of bluegrass-influenced tunes he'd written. The project turned into a co-starring effort, and the meet-up brings out the best in all parties concerned.