Sylvester

Sylvester/Step II

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The surprise about Sylvester's 1977 debut for Fantasy Records is how utterly conventional it sounds after hearing later Hi-NRG disco breakthroughs like "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)." The outstanding opening track, a seven-minute cover of Ashford & Simpson's "Over and Over," features horn fills in the style of the Blackbyrds and the album's most propulsive disco beat, but after that classic the album quickly becomes a much more conventional R&B/soul record. The horns stay prominent on just about every track, perhaps to reassure those who wanted Fantasy to remember its jazz and soul roots in the face of this new disco onslaught. Perhaps, surprisingly, the best and most emotionally honest-sounding tracks on the album are ballads like "I Tried to Forget You" and "Tipsong." In light of "Over and Over" and its dancefloor success, 1978's Step II goes full-force into disco with the classics "Dance (Disco Heat)" and "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)," two falsetto anthems that would prove particularly influential in the U.K., where the mix of pop hooks and disco rhythms would be a key influence on the burgeoning new romantic movement as well as the club-based Hi-NRG scene. Although much of the rest of the album sticks closer to the soul ballad fixation of the debut, Step II is rightfully considered a disco masterpiece.