Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Sylvers...Reconsidered

I always thought The Sylvers got a bit of a raw deal.

I mean, here is a family group that was talented as hell, with charismatic lead singers in Edmund and Leon, flawless harmonies and were beautiful to look at and could boast nine R&B top-40 hits in eight years. "Boogie Fever" in the clip above was a number one Pop and R&B hit. And yet with all that, they still labored under endless comparisons to that other musical family the Jacksons.

More than 30 years later, the Sylvers are worth re-examining. Because they were indeed bad in their own right. So let's blow some dust off this stuff and take a look.

And this one--"Fool's Paradise" from 1972--could be a Fugee's jam 20 years ahead of its time. And the choreography is off the hook:

Edmund died in 2004. Leon, of course, went on to be a super-producer and hit-writer, churning out almost all of Shalamar's hits back in the day. The Whispers, too.

Monday, November 28, 2011

'Pepsi Generation' meets R&B: circa 1970

Lee Bey's Soul Closet has been on hiatus for more than a year. But it's time to open it up again. And we do so with this great video from 1970 featuring the group Chairmen of the Board--you probably know them by their 1970 hit "Give Me Just a Little More Time." Here is a lesser-known song that is still a jam, "You Got Me Dangling on a String."

The song has the same punchy, hook-laden post-Motown sound as the group's other work of the period--and that of their Hot Wax/Invictus labelmates like Honey Cone, 100 Proof (Aged in Soul) and others. The label was started by Motown's stellar writing team Holland/Dozier/Holland.

Lead singer General Johnson was as good as they came when it came to singing pop/soul, bending and stretching notes around the song's catchy beat. But the video is even better than the song. It's damn near a love-in, with mini-skirted women dancing and twirling around as a low-placed wide-angle camera captures it all--not to mention a fair amount of thigh, midriff and rumpshaking. (Personally, I'm liking the girl with the black-and-white striped top and black pants.)

And Johnson, frankly, is a handsome dude in that funky flared blue suit and Jim Kelly afro. He's about 30 here and at the top of his game. Johnson died last year age 69.

The shindig takes place at the Washington Monument in D.C. Can you imagine that happening today? Hell naw. Not with monuments on lockdown, security clearance and other stuff designed to protect our freedom. But if the sight of a three brothers jamming with beautiful women surrounding them doesn't send the message of freedom, I don't know what does.