Dec 29, 2008, 06:30AM

Youthful crime

A youth soul quintet from the 70s that never broke the bank—though maybe that's a good thing.

The following audio was included in this article:

"Misdemeanor" was a top ten hit for the Sylvers in 1973, but fame never really struck for the Memphis family band, and it’s not hard to see why: They’re like the Jackson Five, only not as good. And, while they were far from the only band modeled after the Jacksons, they were one of the best, and they had their own precocious star: Foster.

This song, written by older brother Leon for his 11-year-old brother, nails the elusive formula the five-some from Indiana perfected. Passionate, yearning vocals from a child about something  (in this case: love, crime) (+) fatback drums (x) sugar sweet backing harmonies = hit. The version here is a remix from the 80s. Despite being a hit at the time, and the Sylvers somewhat successful transformation from a family soul band into a family disco troop, this is still heralded as their high water mark.

“Misdemeanor” has been sampled countless times and even allegedly inspired Missy Elliot’s moniker. And in light of what happened to little Michael, maybe it’s a good thing they didn’t have too many more like this in them.


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