Check out Kathy Sledge and Horse Meat Disco's single 'Falling Deep In Love' - available on 12" here.
This Sunday sees the Glitterbox family extend a warm Ibiza welcome to a leading light from another iconic music family, as Kathy Sledge hits the stage for the second time this season. The voice of so many life-affirming musical moments, a vocalist whose ad-libs are more famous than many singers’ lead lines, Kathy and her sisters’ catalogue of classics is known and loved by several generations. So we thought we’d dig a little deeper, unearthing some of the lesser known remixes, covers and Sledge-sampling tracks, not to mention a couple of Kathy’s solo gems. Our selection demonstrates how deeply embedded the sisters and the CHIC production team of Nile Rodgers / Bernard Edwards are in the DNA of the music that we know and love.
Sisters Sledge’s signature tune We Are Family was first a hit in 1979. The story that led to the house generation taking the sisters to their hearts began on a trading estate in Slough in 1993. This was where international DJ organisation DMC had its HQ and recording studios, and where Steve Anderson, one half of Brothers In Rhythm, got hold of the multi-track tape for the disco classic. The resultant remix perfectly balanced the spirit of the original with contemporary dancefloor dynamics. With its teasing extended intro based around horn stabs, Kathy’s ad libs, and then the mother of all piano ‘n’ strings breakdowns, it was an instant hit with DMC’s DJ subscribers, one of whom, Kelvin Andrews, made it an end of night anthem at leading UK club Golden. Such was the buzz, Warner Brothers decided a full reissue was called for. They wanted another new mix, so Sure Is Pure (Kelvin alongside his brother and studio partner Danny Spencer) were the logical choice. Their finely crafted mix led the re-release, a raft of further mixes of Sister Sledge tracks was commissioned, and a repackaged hits album topped the charts. But it all started with Steve’s 8 minutes of magic.
In the early-mid 1990s, before ‘filter disco’ and ‘nu-disco’, we had ‘disco cut-ups’. These were funky house cuts based round disco samples, both instrumental hooks and vocal snippets. A number of series sprung up, including Disco Elements; Hustlers Convention (later known as Full Intention); and Smokin’ Beats, who we feature here with their Disco Dancin’ cut sampling the sisters’ He’s The Greatest Dancer.
Book-ending the two releases featured above were two Kathy Sledge solo tracks, both of which placed her at the centre of global dancefloors. The original version of Take Me Back To Love Again from her 1992 album for Sony was a smooth r’n’b cut, but in the hands of Roger Sanchez, it was completely reworked into a soulful house stormer.
After Kathy parted company with Sony, the S Man wasted no time in teaming up with Kathy once more on his own Narcotic imprint, and the resulting collaboration, an update on Stevie Wonder’s Another Star, was dancefloor dynamite. A plethora of mixes to choose from (from Joe T Vanelli as well as Roger), we’ve opted for the Classic 12” version.
Roger & Kathy will be reunited this Sunday at Hï – tickets HERE.
From the same era, we find a contender for “Most Unlikely Cover Version Ever”. Few fans of either act would have expected post punk auteur Mark E Smith and his band The Fall would rework Sister Sledge’s Lost In Music, but this is just what they did on 1993’s The Infotainment Scan album. And it works! Whil not exactly what you would call faithful to the original, it still frames the song as a dance record of sorts, with a 4/4 beat, funky guitar and a catchy piano motif all intact. Smith’s instantly recognisable vocal style may be an acquired taste, but for fans of indie dance collaborations, it’s a must.
Further examples of the influence of the sisters’ work extending beyond their natural disco habitat can be found in the hip hop world’s embracing of He’s The Greatest Dancer…
… and this unlikely but sumptuous dub reworking of Thinking Of You from New Zealand’s Lord Echo.
Back to more familiar territory, but less familiar tracks, as two highly respected dancemasters delve into less visited corners of the Sister Sledge catalogue. First up, let us share with you Chicago-born / Detroit-residing Theo Parrish’s characteristically hypnotic edit of 1980 album track Pretty Baby.
Of course, when we’re talking Sister Sledge and Glitterbox, we have to reference 2018’s clash of the disco titans, where the inimitable Dimitri From Paris got his hands on the CHIC Organization catalogue and delivered a box set’s worth of vital remixes. In amongst the better known songs was this under-appreciated track from the same album as Pretty Baby, 1980’s Love Somebody Today. Though released as a single, it never scaled the same chart heights as the girls’ higher profile numbers, but Dimitri ensures it gets a well-deserved new lease of life.
We finish where we started, in Ibiza, and with another take on We Are Family. In 2013, the island-based collective Aristofreeks got Kathy in the studio to revisit the track, helping yet another generation to fall in love with its magic.
PS – here’s a taste of what those of you lucky enough to be in attendance on Sunday can expect…