Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Sylvester and the Hot Band

  • Sylvester and the Hot Band [Blue Thumb, 1973] B-
  • Bazaar [Blue Thumb, 1973] C

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Sylvester and the Hot Band [Blue Thumb, 1973]
In which everybody's favorite black transvestite internalizes songs by Neil Young ("Southern Man"), James Taylor ("Steamroller"), and Procul Harum (guess) as well as Ray Charles (not bad, in its way) and Billie Holiday (and people complain about Diana Ross). "Southern Man" is almost unrecognizable in its rock-funk arrangement, which is interesting, and if you think Sweet Baby Wimp sounds funny invoking a "churnin' urn of burnin' funk" just imagine those words from a cartoon character who is three-fourths Tweety Bird and one-fourth--well, it is the puddy tat's name--Sylvester. Finale: a Stax-Volt "My Country 'Tis of Thee." Quite a curiosity. B-

Bazaar [Blue Thumb, 1973]
This opens powerfully, with a hard-rock showstopper original called "Down on Your Knees." But its overall message is confused, because just as his band seems to be going macho, Sylvester himself is emulating the gospel ladies he grew up with--and covering Gram Parsons's "She." C