The Private Press Funk Record From The Band That Disappeared

The Story Behind Sylk’s Self-Titled Album

On April 15th 2020 » By Vinyl Me, Please Staff

SYLK

In some ways, the cover of the album tells you everything you need to know: This is funk music for getting busy, as illicit and sensual as a rose and a piece of lingerie, and as expensive as pearls. But then you look for a few more seconds, and you realize: I have no idea who this band is or what this album even is, and then you go over to Google, and you realize: Neither does anyone else. Then, you go to Discogs, and enter the final phase of the Kübler-Ross pyramid of looking for records: Right now, the original copies of this album go for a minimum of $340.

Which is to say, you might have noticed a new reissue in the VMP store: Sylk by the band Sylk, being reissued for the first time ever by the fine folks at Tidal Waves, through whom we’re doing an exclusive edition of 300 copies on magenta vinyl. But like we said up there, there’s basically nothing on the internet about Sylk, a fact we hope to change here.

Sylk was formed in Central Savannah River Area, a region that captures part of Georgia and South Carolina, when Leroy Harper Jr. (who played sax and keyboards) and Ben Moses (bass and guitar) linked up with Keith Henderson (drums), Michael Henderson (singer and… trombone). They bounced around the CSRA scene in different bands as high schoolers, before they eventually linked up with four more local kids, forming something of a super group in the small region. Moses had the bright idea that to get booked for more shows, the group should record an LP. They hit the studio and recorded their eight songs, at a home studio in North August, South Carolina, that happened to have an engineer named Jim Loyd working at it, who had done records for the Meters, the B-52’s, and many more. The ensuing record sounded so much better than you’d expect it to, from a young band that had been together for just a few months.

The Sylk sound — all funk muscle and disco textures and youthful abandon — is present all over Sylk, and the group pressed up as many copies of the album as they could afford. They gigged like crazy, and eventually, like most bands founded by teenagers, disbanded sometime in the year after Sylk was recorded. Most of the band went on to have normal lives, but Lero Harper ended up playing with Stevie Wonder, Millie Jackson, and, in 1991, joined the J.B.’s, touring and recording with James Brown for 15 years.

In the time since Sylk was released on vinyl to get the band shows, however, the album morphed into a record sought after by crate-diggers the world over. It being a private press, small-run album, the price for the album has soared over the years: It usually sells for as much as $350. The album has not even made its way to YouTube in full over the years, which gives it even more mystery than it already had. But thanks to Tidal Waves and VMP, now more people can hear it than ever have before.

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