Monday, 27 June 2011

If You Want Me To Stay?

So the news has finally hit the cyber stands that pioneer of funk and all round multi talented star Sly Stone is soon to be making his way down the comeback trail with a new album titled ‘I’m Back! Family and Friends’ which on first perusing looks suspiciously like a bunch of other acts playing already famous Sly & The Family Stone tracks while Sly probably mumbles a bit during the chorus.

This isn’t a new album as such. It is a patched together collection of recordings by friends and associates of Sly that still have some kindness and goodwill left in their hearts for him and hope that by letting him use their own likeness and name to help push this album hopefully it might spur him onto to getting clean and making something worthwhile.

Although his recent arrest for cocaine possession would suggest that any personal goal of re-claiming the crown he once held is slipping further and further as the years go by (and just to give you an idea of how many years have gone by the iconic and seminal album ‘There’s A Riot Goin’ On’ was made nearly 40 years ago!)

Some of the tracks on the album include ‘Dance to the Music’ (featuring Ray Manzarek from The Doors), ‘Thank you (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)' featuring Texas Blues Guitarist Johnny Winter and ‘Hot Fun In The Summertime’ featuring Funk legend and bassist Bootsy Collins.

Now full judgement will have to wait until the album is released and each track digested properly but I think just from the environment and situation Sly has been in both mentally, chemically and possibly financially (according to news reports) I don’t expect much and if anything all these tracks will do will be to push fans and newcomers alike to dig out the original versions and realise that Sly Stones talent and ability although possibly still within him are as dormant and defused as his own star.

With his last studio record ‘Ain’t but the one way’ being released in 1982 to a critical firing squad and contender for worst cover version for his pointless and totally misguided recording of The Kinks classic ‘You Really Got Me’ the 3 ‘new’ songs that are being included to the new album I’m willing to bet will fall into 1 of 2 categories, 1) Pointless and meandering Funk workout or 2) vaguely familiar re-writing of one of his previous hits like the last 3 solo albums he released were packed full of.

Throughout pop music history trends come and go and although great artists can weather the storm of contemporary music and fashion and still make quality work for both themselves and their own fan base nobody ever stays ‘on top’ forever, not to say these artists don’t continue to make excellent work or still pack the crowds at their live shows but even a band such as The Rolling Stones would find it impossible to beat their early 70’s run of albums, stature and gigs; even with their own shows growing in size and numbers since then and their newer albums never embarrassing them against their contemporaries their moment in the sun has been and gone for the number 1 spot. The same has happened with Sly Stone, ‘I’m Back?'...who's waiting?

Sly Stone’s recent gigs have been shambolic at best and although with mid flickers of beauty throughout it seems that sometimes life imitates art.

“Stand! You’ve been sitting much too long, there’s a permanent crease in your right or wrong” (Stand! 1969) Sly & The Family Stone

‘I’m Back! Family and Friends’ -Is released on the 16th August through

Cleopatra Records

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