WITH ‘HARD UP’ VIDEO
Sylvester Dances Into MTV View
from Billboard magazine, page 82, April 16, 1983
By LAURA FOTI
NEW YORK – Dance music is alive and well and living on MTV?
Sylvester, whose Megatone album “All I Need” has been on Billboard’s Dance/Disco chart for 18 weeks, has done what few black artists have been able to: placed a video on MTV.
The song, “Hard Up;” is undeniably rock, although the artists claims its r&b-flavored background vocals almost got the clip rejected. “We heard that they felt the lead vocals were O.K., but that the background vocals were too r&b. They obviously really examine what’s submitted.” Sylvester says.
According to Sylvester’s manager, Tim McKenna, it took weeks to convince MTV to put “Hard Up” on the air. The song is the only one on “All I Need” that fits into the rock category, although McKenna claims that fact was not a factor in the decision to produce a video for it. He points out that the lyrics to “Hard Up” simply made that cut the most appropriate for video accompaniment.
The clip, which cost $10,000 to produce, echoes the Egyptian theme of the album as a whole and features Sylvester dancing among pyramids and other props, often with a snake wrapped around his arm.
It’s unlikely there will be any more video from “All I Need,” at least in this country. “We may do some for Europe,” Sylvester says. He himself travels to Europe at least four times a year for personal appearances.
“In Europe all kinds of music – classical, rock, jazz and so on – are played right next to each other. Here everything is segmented. You have to be either black or rock, with no merging between different types of music. And if you’re black, you have to be r&b. In pop you have the Average White Band, Hall & Oates and a number of r&b-type synthesizer bands, but if you’re a black artist you have to do the black charts.”
Sylvester’s label, Megatone, is a two-year-old dance music label founded by the late Patrick Cowley, whose “Megatron Man” was the first release. “Megatone is the only label putting out dance music for the clubs,” Sylvester says. “People are still dancing and there has to be music, which Megatone is pumping out. There’s still a certain amount of success to be had.
The singer continues, “During the (Continued on page 83)
Airs On MTV
Continued from opposite page.
‘disco is dead’ stage, when American record companies dropped their dance departments, you saw a flood of European imports. Patrick’s ‘Megatron Man’ was one of the few dance records released in this country, because the record companies had decreed that there could be no more dance music. But it was very successful.
While still on Fantasy, Sylvester was asked to do a demo. “Fantasy said I was over the hill and couldn’t do another album without a demo – and that I would have to do only r&b or jazz, or I would be suspended. So I did ‘Do You Want To Funk’ with Patrick, and it ended up that Fantasy wanted to distribute the 12-inch. They wanted to know why I hadn’t done the song for them?”
Sylvester claims the “Hard Up” video has attracted favorable reaction when it’s played in clubs; it is also being aired on Home Box Office, Showtime and the Video Music Channel.
you can listen to the songs that MTV played this week in 1983 on Apple Music:
you can watch some of the videos on this youtube playlist: