Today’s POP RESCUE from an uncertain fate, is the 1985 eighth album When The Boys Meet The Girls by American four-piece sibling group Sister Sledge. Is this album like family, or like a bad reunion? Read on…
This 9 track album opens with title track When The Boys Meet The Girls – a song which is pretty long here in its album form, but as a single it became their third and final UK single from this release. The song sees the sisters singing in equal measure over a great upbeat 80s pop track. It opens with them shouting ‘C’mon‘ getting you into the party spirit. There’s plenty of disco pop sounds here partly down to long time collaborator Nile Rodgers being here on guitar and something called a ‘synclavier’, but sadly it failed to give them a hit, scraping into the top 100 singles at #89.
Beats, bass drum, and funky guitar ushers in second single Dancing On The Jagged Edge. Again the sisters are here in equal measure, and their vocal harmonies in the chorus set alongside some funky brass, makes this a really catchy track. Sadly the single flopped at #50 in the UK chart. At this point, they’d gone from #1 with previous single, to having their lowest charting single within 3 months.
Then Kathy Sledge takes the lead for their biggest hit Frankie, which I remember being released. The finger clicks, hi-hat, funky guitar and percussion are just perfect. The ‘hey Frankie?’ intro and the brass sections, help turn this gentle high school crush narrative a real catchy sound. The softer vocals fit the softer beats and warm harmonies from her sisters. Kathy’s vocals are flawless, and this song deserved its #1 status.
Side One closes with You’re Fine, opens with more brass and funky guitars. The tempo has increased on this track, aided by some speedy synth handclaps. Nile Rodgers gets a vocal credit here, with the sisters taking a near backing vocalist role – which seems odd as it’s their album. The vocals feel a little muted here, but musically it has enough to keep it interesting enough (with a lot of trumpet). The song abruptly ends on the sound of a record player being prematurely stopped.
Side Two opens with the oddly titled Hold Out Poppy, which gives Kathy lead vocal duties once more. The sisters are joined by Herbie Hancock on DX7 (keyboard) and he makes good use of it alongside the up-tempo drum machine beats. This song is pretty quick, with two piano keys over a drum fill before it suddenly turns into some kind of odd almost-ballad of the verses. Again, Nile has some funky guitar covered, but this odd song is a bit of a weak start for side two.
The Boy Most Likely follows this, and is a Nile Rodgers composition, and it comes complete with plenty of funky guitar. Musically it nods confidently to earlier hits during their disco hey-day but this isn’t single material at all. Vocally, it’s pretty weak. The sisters sound almost bored.
Joni Sledge gets the lead vocals for next song You Need Me, which opens sounding somewhat different from the other tracks on here – as a ballad. Joni’s breathy vocals drift alongside the music. The sisters once again offer up some wonderfully warm vocal harmonies, but the melody leaves it feeling a bit disjointed. Even the flute sections fail to save it. Even Obligatory 80s Saxophone gets a growling solo, but that’s almost the highlight of the track.
This is followed by the penultimate track, Follow The Leader, this opens with some great funky guitar, bass, and some nice synths. Kathy’s (who co-wrote this track) vocals here are confident, and they sit nicely alongside the light but funky backing.
Joni gets to close the album, with final track Peer Pressure. The song has some heavier guitars here, set alongside some louder pop-rock drums and bass. This song is musically confident, and is pretty catchy with plenty of ‘oh oh oh’ and chanted lyrics, and really should have made it as a single. The song builds perfectly, aided by a guitar solo.
Where are Sister Sledge now?
The early 1993 gave the group a resurgence with one top 5 hit, and 2 top 20 hits with remixed versions of hits We Are Family and Lost In Music by Sure Is Pure, and Thinking Of You by Ramp.
However, original material has not produced the same level of success, with their most recent original and charting single being 1986’s ironically named song Here To Stay, which stalled at #78 in the UK singles chart. The fourth release of hit We Are Family was their last charting UK single back in 2004, but unlike the success from 1993, this time it flopped at #93.
Kathy Sledge let the group in 1989, returning for a one-off performance in 2011. She has managed moderate success as a solo artist in the UK – the biggest being Freedom with Robert Miles in 1997.
Despite this, it’s as Sister Sledge that draws the most attention. Kim left briefly, returning in 2014 when it was believed they were working on new material.
The remaining members (Kim, Joni, and Debbie) still performed occasionally at 70s, disco, and 80s music concerts alongside their former chart companions, where they were noted for their energetic performances.
Sadly, Joni suddenly died in March 2017.
POP RESCUE RATING
Over all, it’s odd to find an album that has both an artists biggest single (Frankie, their only UK #1), and their lowest charting singles.
Its a bit mixed, with some weak and odd moments (why does Nile get his own track here?), and then there are some wonderfully catchy and reminiscent tracks too. It definitely deserved greater success and attention.
- POP RESCUE 2015 RATING: 3 / 5
- 1985 UK CHART POSITION: #19, certified Gold.
- POP RESCUE COST: £4.49 from a Discogs.com seller.