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Essential Listening: Sister Sledge

Essential Listening: Sister Sledge

Jemima Skala | Features & Interviews

Sister Sledge need no introduction, but here’s one for you anyway. The group was literally made up of four Sledge sisters: Debbie, Joni, Kim and Kathy. This power family unit were at the height of their fame in the disco era, and their collaboration with Chic’s Nile Rodgers ensured that they became a household name. Their own brand of feel-good disco has kept dancefloors alive for decades, so why not revisit their best moments to get you feeling groovy and ready for the weekend?

He’s The Greatest Dancer
This slick number will have your shoulders, hips and feet going as soon as you hear that unmistakably Nile Rodgers’ guitar line kick in. The vocals of every Sister Sledge drip over the energetic instrumental, creating a track that perfectly embodies the seduction and movement of the nightclubs of the late 70s. Peter Shapiro notes in his book Turn The Beat Around that Rodgers and Bernard Edwards originally wrote this song for Chic, and the sisters were outraged at being asked to sing the lyric “my crème de la crème please take me home,” as it made them sound like ‘loose women’. Loose or not, this song made sure these women were the talk of the town all over the world.

Thinking Of You
How could you not be enticed into movement by the opening bongos and guitar strums? Before you know it, as the song builds, slyly introducing strings, bass and drums, you’re in the middle of the room pulling out your best moves that would fit right in on Soul Train. Potentially the smoothest love song written, the vocals are front and centre on this track, one minute soaring and “living in ecstasy”, the next in the silkiest of lows. The only rival to this song on the seduction chart is Sade’s ‘Smooth Operator’.

My Guy
‘My Guy’ retains all of the naivety and lovesickness of Mary Wells’ 1964 Motown original, but adding a wonderful disco touch of style and flare. The carefully-placed syncopation in the Sledge version of “no muscle-bound man could ever take my hand from my guy” graces this cover with just a hint of flirtation, letting you know that these ladies could have anyone they set their sights on but they were lucky enough to choose you.

We Are Family
Where would a Sister Sledge summary be without mentioning ‘We Are Family’? This track shot the group to fame both at home in the US and abroad, with its strong message of solidarity and sisterhood cementing it in the collective consciousness as one of the greats. Every voice is exhibited in all its perfection, and you know the sisters had just as much fun recording it as you do listening to it; towards the end of the track, shouts of enthusiasm and riffs on the melody prove that this track is an all-out party from start to finish.

Lost In Music
This track begins with a driving rhythm that leads the you right through to the end, guiding you through the swirling disco right until the end. The backing vocals open with a proclamation of “we’re lost in music/No turning back”; they sing it loud and confidently, so you can take comfort in having lost your way because everyone is right where you are, lost right alongside you. An anthem for everyone who feels disillusioned by the nine-to-five lifestyle, this track will make living for the weekend all the more worthwhile.

Still led by original members Kim and Debbie, Sister Sledge perform at El Dorado Festival in June and Manchester’s Disco Classical in July. The duo will also be joined by previous member Kathy Sledge for Southport Weekender on Saturday 9th June.

Photo courtesy of Sister Sledge

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Essential Listening: Sister Sledge

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