Sylvester's musical gifts were mostly as overlooked as his image was splashy--and his story fascinating. Born in 1947 into an upper-middle class family in Los Angeles, he began as a gospel singer before a short, attention-grabbing stay with the Cockettes, a San Francisco transvestite theatrical troupe with great underground cachet. By the time disco exploded in the late 1970s, Sylvester had found his groove: his Pentecostal gospel-drenched, natural-sounding falsetto vocals, joined with compelling disco rhythms, made for a highly-charged and productive marriage. Although his low-tenor/baritone range is also heard to excellent advantage here, his upper register occasioned comparisons with Smokey Robinson, Donnie Elbert, and Eddie Holman. Backed by a strong core of disco/funk players and given exceptional support by a group of vocalists that included the female tandem who would become the Weather Girls, Sylvester (who died in 1988) forged a unique musical identity. This disc, pairing his first and last albums for Fantasy, shows that identity's evolution.
with Tip Wirrick, Izora Rhodes, Martha Wash, Louis Biancaniello, Kelvin Dixon, David Frazier, Jeanie Tracy, Maurice Long, Auteria "Wally" Winzer, Jr., Louis Small, Gregg Crockett, Tony Flores, Harvey Fuqua, Eluriel "Tinker" Barfield, Woody Cunningham, and others