Album of the Week: Sister Sledge’s We Are Family (1979)

Yes, this is Sister Sledge’s We Are Family, featuring the hit Sister Sledge song “We Are Family”. However, this classic disco LP has a lot more to offer! The incomparable Nile Rodgers is in the house, as is his Chic bandmate and bassist Bernard Edwards. The duo produced and wrote the entire album, but it couldn’t be complete without the satin-clad singers you see above.

The sisters Sledge – that’s Debbie, Joni, Kim, and Kathy Sledge – hail from Philadelphia and graduated from Olney High School. I never knew they were actually sisters with the last name Sledge, but that explains “We Are Family”, for one thing. It’s one of those songs that’s so strongly burned into my childhood brain from radio play, family gatherings, sporting events, birthday parties etc. that I wouldn’t really go out of my way to listen to it now. But hearing “Thinking of You” for the first time recently, I was blown away. Here’s a downright amazing song, peak Nile Rodgers. Here’s what Kathy Sledge told PopMatters of the track:

“I remember they would always show us the song that we were going to record, not even the day of, but when it was time to record it… When they first played ‘Thinking of You’, I loved it instantly. I like all the songs that I got the opportunity to sing with Nile and Bernard, but ‘Thinking of You’ always stuck out to me.”

Opener “He’s the Greatest Dancer” went to #9 on Billboard’s Hot 100 – disco was really a thing, huh? If you’re a 90s baby like me, you probably know this guitar line from Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”. Needless to say, the Sister Sledge song knocks it out of the park. This is rock-solid album where the non-hits are great as well: the last minute of “Somebody Loves Me” is heavenly. We Are Family is a laid back slab of grooves from one of the masters, and this album has actually changed the way I think of pop disco. Dig it.

Listen to We Are Family here… ooh- er, that’s actually a video of Phish covering “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”. Listen to We Are Family here.

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