100 Greatest Songs of the 70’s #86 Sister Sledge – He’s the Greatest Dancer

Released : 1979

It’s a rare marraige that’s actually made in heaven, but in disco terms when Chic’s Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers agreed to work with the sisters Sledge – Debbie, Joni, Kathie and Kim – it created a relationship for both parties which was as commercially remarkable as it was artistically gratifying.

For the siblings is was an elevation in status they desperately needed. They’d signed to Atlantic as far back as 1973 and had performed at Muhammad Ali’s fight in Zaire two years later, but hits had eluded them and sales of their first two albums Circle of Love and Together had been modest. At the suggestion of Atlantic supremo Jerry Greenberg then came Edwards and Rogers, who agreed to write, arrange and produce We Are Family and would later claim it was their finest hour in that role.

Through He’s the Greatest Dancer the partnership began to pay off instantly. Disco was by this point the dominant force in American music – much to the chagrin of many rock fans – but even at this late stage of it’s evolution the clever touches here helped to steer the track away from cliche. Featuring a young Luther Vandross buried in the mix, the airy jazz guitar lick, effortless strings and gilded piano contrasted with the still schoolgirl Kathie’s vocals, which dripped with a sex-filled yearning beyond her years. So who was this dance floor prowling, designer clad stud that owned the club and her waking dreams? No point in asking. At this point none of the sisters had ever even been to one.

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