Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Sylvester - Step II

Sylvester 1

Sylvester, "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" (YSI link)
Sylvester, "Dance (Disco Heat)" (YSI link)

Sylvester, "Was It Something That I Said" (YSI link)

Oh boy, this is a good one. We've been slowly bringing this site around to the disco sounds, this one's essential stuff. Sylvester is one of the pivotal male singers in the genre's history, a larger than life figure who sang on some of the greatest songs of the late 70s and early 80s. Born Sylvester James, he would actually start out making rock music in San Francisco in the early 70s. Over the course of that decade, he would begin to make funkier and dancier music, until it all came together when he began collaborating with Patrick Cowley in 1978. They began to work together after Sylvester heard Cowley's work on a synthesizer in the San Francisco studio he was using.

They would first come up with the LP Step II and Sylvester's voice with Cowley's synth work gave us these two disco classics. "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" kicks things off and it will make you feel mighty real too. Oh man, this is so good, joyous, peak-time stuff. It's all about Sylvester's vocals, he seems able to be able to bring the song to various high points with the soaring voice and little hollers. Underneath all of that, there's a lush classic disco sound; there's a funky bass, bongos and claps and a strong 4/4 beat, some effects and keys and an oscilllating synth that helps build the tension in the middle section. "Dance (Disco Heat)" features the vocal talents of Izora Rhodes and Martha Wash, i.e. Two Tons O' Fun, who are all over this one. The bass is just massive, the keys and harp are nice, the pace is more furious and consistent than "You Make Me Feel." "Dance with me in the disco heat, dance with me in the disco heat." Yeah!

The album's B side is less dancefloor-centric, which isn't a bad thing. You get slower, more melancholic cuts, including a Bacharac-David tune ("I Took My Strength From You"). "Was It Something That I Said" has a soul-ballad feel, with Sylvester's tender vocals trying to figure out why a relationship ended, horns and strings and the ladies singing great backup vocals. I love it, even if it isn't a classic.

You need these songs in your life. This is beautiful music, this will brighten your day and, yes, save your life. Now, if it would just get Obama to support universal health care.

1 comment:

aTom Ten said...

Ever since I first heard Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" I have been telling my young friends that Cee-Lo sounds like Sylvester - and they all ask "Sylvester who?" Thanks for the post. "Do Ya Wanna Funk?"