Sunday, March 26, 2017

SISTER SLEDGE-African Eyes (1998)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: March 26, 2017

My mission to gather up the missing pieces to the S' artists in my music collection converges once more with my continued side quest to explore the contemporary incarnations of the old-school soul and disco groups who were popular well before my time. Next up in my studies is the sisterly supergroup SISTER SLEDGE, who are well known in the popular music mainstream for their timeless hits of "He's The Greatest Dancer" and "We Are Family". I'd been hanging around the 1990/1991 mark with my last few listens, so I went to the farther end of the 90's with SISTER SLEDGE's 1998 effort, "African Eyes". Right off the bat, I had envisioned a conceptual soul album with an ethnic theme, and it turned out that I would be partially correct. In fact, the first five tracks I took in have a very non-mainstream arrangement to them: the fluid, graceful journey that is the opener, "Walking In The Light"; the soothing tribute to an old friend that is "The Thank You Song" (I love the subtle Latin rhythm coupled with both the Spanish lyrics and the lyrics from a native African tongue); the easy-listening sweet treat that is "Where Is The Moon?"; the smooth jazz-influenced breezy delight that is "The Unraveling"; and the lively, drum n' bass affair that is title track, complete with African chanting and a tribute to their own timeless hit with their brief delivery of ' we're still family ' during the festive midway break. The music shifts over to a more mainstream sound on Track #6's "Let It Out", where a very nice upbeat r&b grove with a nice bounce to the beat serves as a great backdrop to their boastful words of needing to let their feelings show, and the follow-up, "You Are The One" (there's some jazzy excellence to be enjoyed during the midway instrumental break here) and what became my #1 favorite as well as my latest nomination for 'Slow Jam Of The Night', "I Love You For Life" (this one totally deserves a spot on the quiet storm and soft rock radio airwaves with its instantly captivating, starry glow of eternal romantic togetherness). After that, it's on to the conceptual topic of uniting the people while promoting uplifting encouragement on the downtempo house-inspired feel-gooder of a dance jam, "World Rise And Shine". 'Feel the new day in a new way', they sing collectively in the chorus with their unified 'whoo-whoo-whoo' in every other pass of that chorus accentuating the song's celebratory vibe. Then the sisters tone things down considerably for the ambient, acoustic guitar-driven piece, "Love's Abyss". This is totally the type of calming music for one to get yourself and your senses trapped inside of.....just as they sing about getting lost and trapped inside the irresistibly and inescapably wonderful place that is the title to this song. A startling coincidence that I'd get to hear the concluding track, "Cry For Sowetto", at this juncture of my life. I have become familiar with the word 'Soweto' (spelled with one 'T'), which is an area within the town of Johannesburg, South Africa and where a special music lover I've been in contact with for about a year now resides (through him, I have greater knowledge of the inner workings of South African civilization in general). This song has an attractive ambient sparkle to it and is also quite haunting—just one of the many exotic places to be seen here within the "African Eyes":

1. Walking In The Light
2. The Thank You Song
3. Where is The Moon?
4. The Unraveling
5. African Eyes
6. Let It Out
7. You Are The One
8. I Love You For Life
9. World Rise And Shine
10. Love's Abyss
11. Cry For Sowetto

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