Sylvester

Too Hot to Sleep (Compilation)

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In 1999, Fantasy reissued Sylvester's first and last albums for the label -- Sylvester (1977) and Too Hot to Sleep (1981) -- on this 74-minute CD. Both sessions point to the fact that no artist was more consistently mindful of disco's Northern soul and gospel roots than Sylvester, who made sure that his albums were as listenable as they were danceable. This CD is full of dancefloor classics -- club hounds of the Disco Era were well aware of infectious gems like "Over and Over," "Down Down Down," and "Change" from Sylvester and "Give It Up (Don't Make Me Wait)" from Too Hot to Sleep. But Sylvester wasn't recording strictly for clubs, and his talents as a soulful, charismatic provider of slow jams and ballads are evident on "Loving Grows Up Slow," "Tipsong," and a superb cover of Smokey Robinson & the Miracles' "Ooh Baby Baby." Of course, Sylvester didn't escape the wrath of the knee-jerk disco bashers of the late '70s and early '80s, who saw disco as robotic and mechanical and refused to believe that any disco artist could be warm, personal, and expressive -- all of the things that Sylvester's albums were. But time would be kind to disco. While many rockers of the late '70s jumped on the death-to-disco movement, disco spelled "legitimacy" and "hipness" to a lot of Generation X rockers of the '90s. And if those Gen-Xers are basing their opinions on excellent CDs such as this one, it's easy to understand why they feel the way they do.

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