The 26-track compilation, titled ‘Disco Heat: The Fantasy Years 1977-1981’, is spread over two CDs and features music he released on San Francisco label Fantasy.
It includes acclaimed singles such as the dance club smash hit ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’ and ‘Dance (Disco Heat)’, both of which featured on Sylvester’s 1978 album ‘Step II’, his second studio album under his given name, and fourth including his time fronting Sylvester And The Hot Band.
The double-album also features career-defining covers, such as the emotional live recorded rendition of Patti LaBelle’s ‘You Are My Friend’ and Leon Russell’s ‘A Song For You’.
Read this next: Watch a new documentary about disco legend Sylvester
Described by many as the “Other Queen of Disco” , Sylvester is revered for his expressive style and memorable persona, which he proudly displayed amid an often racist and openly homophobic social climate.
His interest in singing began aged just three, when he would regularly perform with the gospel choir in his Pentecostal community in his hometown of Los Angeles, and was reportedly described by the women of the church as “feminine” and “as pretty as he could be.” After his homosexual tendencies were shunned by family members, the then-teenager sought refuge in the hands of a local group of young Black queer performers, known as The Disquotays, which disbanded as he approached his early 20s.
‘Disco Heat’ came out on June 2 in time for this year’s Pride Month, arriving as a tribute to the Black dance legend’s efforts in pushing for homosexual acceptance.
“Sometimes folks make us feel strange,” said the icon to a 1978 New York audience, “but we are not strange – and those folks, they’ll just have to catch up.”
This masterful compilation, which has supporting vocals by the elegant voices of Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes – or The Weather Girls, a duo best known for their 1982 queer anthem ‘It’s Raining Men’ – asserts “folks” can no longer deny the influence of such artists upon disco music, and that Sylvester’s legacy has lasted long after his death in 1988.
Buy ‘Disco Heat’ via Bandcamp and check out the full tracklist below.
1. Over and Over (12″ Disco Version)
2. Down, Down, Down (12″ Disco Version)
3. I Been Down
5. Loving Grows Up Slow
6. Never Too Late
7. Dance (Disco Heat) (12″ Disco Version)
8. You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) (12″ Disco Version)
9. Was It Something That I Said
10. I Took My Strength from You
11. I Who Have Nothing (12″ Short Disco Version)
12. Body Strong (12″ Disco Version)
13. I Need Somebody to Love Tonight
1. Stars (12″ Disco Version)
2. Can’t Stop Dancing (12″ Disco Version)
3. In My Fantasy (I Want You, I Need You) (12″ Disco Version)
4. You Are My Friend (Single Version)
5. Medley: Could It Be Magic/A Song for You
6. I Need You
7. Sell My Soul (12″ Disco Version)
9. Change Up
10. Here Is My Love
11. Give It Up (Don’t Make Me Wait) (12″ Disco Version)
12. Thinking Right
13. I Can’t Believe I’m In Love
Tiffany Ibe is Mixmag’s Digital Intern, follow her on Instagram
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Written by: Tim Hopkins