Sylvester's Shining Moment Captured For All Posterity!!
MUZIK4THAPEOPLE!! | Seattle & San Diego | 01/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I put this album on, I go through a range of emotions:
Laughter & Joy (reminiscing about the good ol' days!)
Sadness & Melancholy (thinking of how we lost this
talented artist and larger-than-life personality,
as well as many of my great freinds from that era
to the scourge of AIDS!)
There aren't a lot of us around still who can
remember when Sylvester's star was shining bright
but thank goodness this special night was captured
on record for us to hear & stroll down memory lane,
and for a new generation to discover
one of the true grand divas of disco!
They're all on here: "Dance (Disco Heat)",
"You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)", "You Are My Freind",
which was his popular rendition of a Patti Labelle song.
(One of his idols and later a freind!)
He also covers another disco diva's songs..
Donna Summers' beautiful and haunting "Could This Be Magic",
which was penned by Barry Manilow.
He and "Two Tons O' Fun" (Martha & Izora) also do a snappy
churchified version of Lennon & McCartney's classic "Blackbird".
You can feel the energy and love between the artists and
the audience on that fabled night in March 1979!
Too bad his other disco classic "Do Ya' Wanna Funk?"
wasn't even recorded at the time this concert record was made.
That would've taken it over the edge!
R.I.P. Sylvester, Patrick Cowley & Ms. Izora "Queen Mother" Rhodes!!
P.S.>>Check out the biographical book on Sylvester's life
called "The Fabulous Sylvester"..it captures his life and times
as well as the social climate of San Francisco in the 70's
to a tee! I really enjoyed reading this book and you will too!"
Sylvester & Friends: LIVE in San Francisco
Truth | DC | 11/22/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Sylvester James's March 11, 1979, performance at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House is captured for prosperity on the album "Living Proof". At about 67 minutes, the album is an edited and condensed version of a performance which Sylvester biographer Joshua Gamson, in his 2005 Sylvester biography "The Fabulous Sylvester", described in the following passage: "Sylvester's Opera House show, like many other Opera House shows, had three acts and lasted nearly three hours."
LIVING PROOF consists of 10 tracks, including the "Overture", an instrumental introduction medly. The track listing (back panel) is almost identical in style and format to that of "The Original Hits" collection. Booklet includes personnel, thanks, no lyrics, and no photos or artwork. This is the 1990 re-issue of the original 1979 LP. The album was originally released as a double-LP; the fourth side of which were studio recordings, including "Can't Stop Dancing"; those tracks are not included here, hence the disclaimer "Due to maximum playing time limitations, it has not been possible to include the entire contents of the original double album on this CD."
Two Tons O' Fun (Izora Rhodes and Martha Wash, who later became The Weather Girls, billed here as "The Two Tons") performed on stage with Sylvester and make their presence known much too much to allow them to be called "background" vocalists. (Jeanie Tracy and Sharon Hymes, singing in the orchestra pit, were the backup singers that nite.)
Disco Diva Sylvester only makes a minor appearance in this set. The bulk of the performance is by Sylvester the neo-gospel secular singer, Sylvester the balladeer, and Sylvester as his Jazz chanteuse alter-ego "Ruby Blue" (or Rubi Bleu). One disappointing aspect of Sylvester's (or Rubi's) performance is that "Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be)" omits the word "man", thus becoming gender-less. (However, he does dedicate the song "Sharing Something Perfect Between Ourselves" to his "lover".)
Track 4, the Medley of "Could It Be Magic" and "A Song for You" is a duet with pianist Eric Robinson. It is mostly a rendition of "A Song for You" with "Could It Be Magic" used as an intro and an outro.
The performance and the disc end with Sylvester's most mainstream hit "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)". It starts off as the disco hit most know it as, but it soon transitions into a ballad version of the song, with Sylvester soliciting audience participation.
There are no monologs, but there is a bit of banter by Sylvester, which does mean there is less music and time spent singing, but the dialog and audience interaction is something unavailable on a studio album. (It would be nice if an extended version of the album could be released - if the master tapes are even available; if not, a re-issue with the omitted studio recordings and some other extras would be great.)
The only other live albums in my collection are by Millie Jackson and Erykah Badu (not counting that horribly edited Etta James ten-song set that has been released under several titles). I find them both - especially Millie Jackson's "Live & Uncensored"  - much more enjoyable than "Living Proof". But I did find "Living Proof" enjoyable. However, I would only recommend it to true Sylvester fans who already have his other recordings in their collections.