Thanks to producer Freddie Perren, Tavares acquired a lot of disco gloss on their fourth album, Sky High! The producers Tavares had worked with on previous efforts -- first Johnny Bristol on Check It Out, then the Dennis Lambert/Brian Potter team on Hard Core Poetry and In the City -- saw them as primarily a Northern soul vocal quintet. Perren didn't forget about Tavares' Northern soul heritage, but he made sure that the up-tempo selections would appeal to disco audiences in a major way. The joyous "Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel" (a number three R&B hit) and the equally exuberant "Don't Take Away the Music" became dancefloor favorites, and pop fans who knew Tavares for those gems started to think of them as a disco group instead of a soul group. But it would be a mistake to believe that Sky High! isn't relevant to soul; in fact, "To the Other Man" and "Guiding Star" are exactly the type of smooth Northern soul ballads that had put Tavares on the map in 1973 and 1974. And "Don't Take Away the Music," like the Trammps' best recordings, is a perfect marriage of Philadelphia soul and Philadelphia disco -- it has just the right blend of grit and gloss. Sky High! may not be quite as essential as Hard Core Poetry, Check It Out, or In the City, but it was certainly a rewarding and often fun addition to Tavares' catalog. ~ Alex Henderson
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