When we roll up the last century and look back on about half a decade of truly superb music, what are we going to remember of disco?
I’ve heard people say that the only figure from our era that history is truly going to remember is Neil Armstrong – everyone else just fades into the background compared to the first man on the moon.
Likewise, everyone (despite their brilliance and glory) looks just a little bit wilted and second-hand when they stand next to Sylvester. When you look back on clips from the era, it’s hard to believe this really happened. Is that really Sylvester in sequins and dew drop glasses on TV? And hitting notes that made other vocalists double over like they just took a rough hit off a bong? Sylvester’s relatively brief career spanned the whole of the disco era with some left over; the 10 albums represent a robust recording career by most standards. Just on the basis of musical integrity, Sylvester was one of the few acts of the era (I think P-Funk is like this too) whose catalog starts impromptu revivals just from its own kinetic energy, like a bushfire leaping highways. Sylvester is a livewire downed in the middle of the street, still trembling with lethal energy some thirty years (is it really?) since he left us.
“Over and Over” was an Ashford & Simpson-penned release from Sylvester’s fruitful Fantasy period, dropped in 1977. (Weirdly, the b-side, “Down, Down, Down,” was actually the first single from the self-titled Sylvester album; “Over and Over” was the second, and failed to chart.) DJ KON remixes these with a beautiful touch: Sylvester’s vocal is nestled into the chants and background singers that made the original feel so friendly. There’s a genius to this, that magical alchemy by which engineers and mixers take many tracks and blend them into an impenetrable whole. You can’t hear the drums or the bass or discern them from the rest: they bleed into one another and all you hear is beautiful music. The B-side features a slightly shorter, more up-tempo and dare I say almost RELIGIOUS rendition. For whatever sins the compilers at Billboard committed in 1977, Kon brings the best traditions of his craft to the table here and holds nothing back. It’s 20 more minutes added to the work of an artist for whom we could never have enough.
Sylvester: Over and Over (Kontemporary)
A1. Sylvester: “Over & Over” (Kon Find A Friend remix) (11:43)
B1. Sylvester: “Over & Over” (Kon Found A Friend remix) (9:18)