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  Sylvers
 

Click below for a Sylvers sample:

Misdemeanor

New Horizons

  

 
Often unfairly dismissed as Jackson Five imitators, the Memphis born and bred Sylvers were an extension of that city's soul tradition.  Jonathon, Edmund, Angie, Leon, Charmaine, Olympia-Ann, James, Ricky, Pat and youngest brother Foster were taken under Jerry Butler's wing after latching on to the MGM subsidiary Pride.  Butler produced their debut album, which notched two top 10 hits with "Fool's Paradise" and "Wish I Could Talk To You."  These two songs were typical of the first phase of the Sylvers, where they tackled material much more sophisticated than the Jackson Five. The initial success landed them on the cover of teen magazines like Right On for what seemed like the rest of the decade.

In 1973, the label put out a solo Foster Sylvers LP, hoping to catch on with the same teen audience that supported Michael Jackson's early solo records.  This album is now legendary for "Misdemeanor," a bouncy groove that has been sampled several times. 

The Sylvers' biggest hits came after they moved to the Capitol label.   There, they were paired with Freddie Perren and Keni St. Lewis, who provided the lightweight material that returned them to the charts after a couple of lean years.   "Hot Line" and "Boogie Fever" capitalized on a frothy disco-soul sound that was best described by one of their singles: cotton candy.

The group eventually outgrew titles like "High School Dance" and began to explore their writing capabilities on New Horizons.  It was pretty much a shock to everybody when the released the hardcore funk of "Don't Stop Get Off" as the lead track to Forever Yours.  This was perhaps their most satisfying LP, as they demonstrated the skills to do disco ("Come Dance With Me," straight soul ("Swept For You Baby," written by Smokey Robinson) and ballads in the title tune.

From that peak Casablanca put them in the care of Giorgio Moroder, Donna Summer's producer.  Coming off the strength of Forever Yours, the Euro-flavored Disco Fever was a disappointment.  It would be their last recording for Casablanca.

Leon Sylvers, who had been working behind the scenes since the first Sylvers record, made a name for himself as the primary producer for Solar Records in the early 1980s, putting his knowledge to work on hits by Shalamar and Dynasty.   Edmund and Foster also worked as producers, most notably on the early Janet Jackson albums. 

The family recently experienced the loss of lead singer Edmund, who died of lung cancer on March 11, 2004.

Sylvers' Deepest Grooves

Sylvers (Pride, 1972)

Sylvers II (Pride, 1973)

Misdemeanor - Foster Sylvers (Pride, 1973)

Sylvers III (Pride, 1974)

Something Special (Capitol, 1975)

Showcase (Capitol, 1976)

New Horizons (Capitol, 1978)

Forever Yours (Casablanca, 1978)

Disco Fever (Casablanca, 1979)

Concept (Solar, 1981)

Bizarre (Geffen, 1984)

Greatest Hits (Curb, 1994)

Boogie Fever: Best Of (Razor and Tie, 1995)

Classic Masters (Capitol, 2002)
The Sylvers' catalog remains woefully underrepresented in the marketplace, making this the best of a very weak choice of compilations.  The focus is on the Capitol years, but at least "Fool's Paradise" and "Wish I Could Talk To You" are here.  Pity that "Come Back Lover" from the Concept album was not included. 

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