SoulTracks Exclusive: Long lost Sister Sledge gem pulled from the vault

(March 14, 2020) For nearly a full decade before their international break with now-classics “He’s the Greatest Dancer” and “We Are Family,” Philadelphia’s Sister Sledge paid their professional dues. While still in elementary, middle, and high school, Kathy, Joni, Debbie, and Kim churned out a dozen singles, several albums, and performed around the world to build up their name recognition.

(March 14, 2020) For nearly a full decade before their international break with now-classics “He’s the Greatest Dancer” and “We Are Family,” Philadelphia’s Sister Sledge paid their professional dues. While still in elementary, middle, and high school, Kathy, Joni, Debbie, and Kim churned out a dozen singles, several albums, and performed around the world to build up their name recognition.

London-based SoulMusic Records’ new six-disc box set, Thinking of You: THe Atco/Cotillion/Atlantic Recordings (1973-1985), compiles all eight of Sister Sledge’s albums recorded between 1975 and 1985—as well as a host of non-album singles released between 1973 and 1978. Making a worldwide debut on CD, 1978’s “I’ve Seen Better Days” and “Do It to the Max” provide a fascinating glimpse into the remarkable musical versatility of the sisters at a point when the group was just about to call it quits—after a number of unsuccessful releases, and just before they finally made the big time.

Produced by Brad Shapiro in Muscle Schoals during 1978, the group’s self-composed “Do It to the Max” is a sassy, funky number highlighting the siblings’ crisp, wide-ranging harmonies and distinctive lead tones. Backed by bright horns, snaky guitar turns, and an unshakably tight bassline and drum groove, the sisters’ message of positivity and individualism shines through in a mode surprisingly more R&B-steeped than that found on many of their later hits.

Thinking of You: The Atco/Cotillion/Atlantic Recordings (1973-1985), available March 20, also includes an expansive booklet with a 10,000-word historical essay by SoulTracks’ Justin Kantor, based on exclusive new interviews with Kathy Sledge,producer Phil Hurtt, and vocalist Alfa Anderson. Take a sneak peek of “Do It to the Max” below, and let us know what you think of this rarely heard gem!

Sister Sledge
"Do It To The Max"

 
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