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January 27, 2006 9:30 AM   Subscribe

Sly Stone--not dead, might perform again. [from WaPo] A great musician and a complicated life.
posted by bardic (37 comments total)

 
Academy, wouldn't confirm that the reunion is on the Grammy-night schedule, which already includes an all-star tribute to Sly and the Family Stone. The tribute -- featuring John Legend, Maroon 5, will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith ....

I'm all for Sly bouncing back but this segment made my tongue choke my throat.
posted by Peter H at 9:36 AM on January 27, 2006


Keith Richards, not dead, might perform again. A great musician and a complicated life.
posted by adamvasco at 9:36 AM on January 27, 2006


The Sly "tribute album" (really a collection of remixes) is much better than you'd think. Of course, it rarely beats the originals, but if you're not deaf you've probably listened to "Stand" more times that necessary and could use a change.
posted by maxreax at 9:38 AM on January 27, 2006


Holy crap that would be amazing.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:55 AM on January 27, 2006


If he shows up.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:56 AM on January 27, 2006


will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas

I think it's now mandated by law that will.i.am has to appear in anything even vaguely music-related now.

On the subject of Sly, he's probably on the 10 or so most important figures in popular music history and it would be great to see him back in action. But I hope he's put the drugs away and that he hasn't gone copletely nuts like Spector.

boomlackalackalacka.....
posted by jonmc at 10:05 AM on January 27, 2006


It would be nice to see him again, but I wouldn't expect much in the way of a performance. Prove me wrong, brother!
posted by 2sheets at 10:13 AM on January 27, 2006


it would be great to see him back in action

Yup. If I were a God-fearin' man, I'd be praying for both Sly and Gil Scott Heron to get a little peace, a little stability, and enough recovery to get 'em back on the stage.

I don't know if I'd put him up there in the top ten, but he's unquestionably up there somewhere -- and I'd rate Scott Heron even higher. Sadly, their genius seems to be tied to a particular set of demons that neither have had much success in abating.

Que Sera Sera
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:18 AM on January 27, 2006


Hope this works out. Sly and the Family Stone were brilliant.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:29 AM on January 27, 2006


in a little nightclub in New York a couple of years ago I saw Prince play for three hours with most of the Family Stone (plus Doug E. Fresh, oddly enough), mostly playing their songs rather than his. As you can imagine, this was a completely fucking mind-blowing gig, but all the way through there was a little niggling voice in the back of my mind hoping that, for the next song, Sly would take to the stage...

So, yeah, I hope he comes back. Though I fear it would be a bit like Brian Wilson's return - you know, really depressing.

maxreax said 'The Sly "tribute album" (really a collection of remixes) is much better than you'd think. Of course, it rarely beats the originals, but if you're not deaf you've probably listened to "Stand" more times that necessary and could use a change.'

Each to their own, of course, but that record made me want to do very bad, very violent things to all those involved.
posted by jack_mo at 11:08 AM on January 27, 2006


nice title, bardic! I thought of the same thing when I saw this post. I was just listening to that song last night, in fact.
posted by whatnot at 11:16 AM on January 27, 2006


Wow, Sly is a musical hero of mine, and just to hear something about him is pretty amazing. I really hope he's sorted himself out and he makes a comeback, but my gut feeling is that this is very unlikely.
posted by ob at 11:18 AM on January 27, 2006


Though I fear it would be a bit like Brian Wilson's return - you know, really depressing.

I saw Brian Wilson on the Orchestral Pet Sounds tour. While the strain of the intervening years showed, his performance was still great. Not depressing to me, at all. YMMV.
posted by jonmc at 11:35 AM on January 27, 2006


Saw him and the Family Stone a few months before they got famous with "Take you Higher" -- playing for an all-African-American labor union crowd. Had no idea who this incredible, integrated band was, but they blew the roof off the place. HOWEVER, my vote for Sly Stone's greatest achievement goes to having produced "C'mon and Swim" by Bobby Freeman. Have you ever heard this song? Listen to the agressive drive in that horn part. Elements of "C'mon and Swim" look forward to "Gonna Take You Higher" and other Sly stuff. It is one of the great songs of the 60s.
posted by Faze at 11:49 AM on January 27, 2006


This is probably a good place to mention that an upcoming title in the incredible 33 1/3 series is Sly's There's a Riot Goin' On.
posted by hamfisted at 12:03 PM on January 27, 2006


he's probably on the 10 or so most important figures in popular music history

Well, no. I love some of his songs, but popular music is a lot older than Sly Stone (and rock and roll and the 20th century and so on), and it isn't just the stuff Americans listen to, so I think you'd have a hard time justifying that claim. He was fairly interesting in his milieu.
posted by pracowity at 12:37 PM on January 27, 2006


I rank him that high (and I'll admit to a little bit of hyperbole) because except for James Brown he did more to create the genre known as Funk, which has permeated a huge swath of the popular music that came after him. So he does have a pretty high perch in the pantheon, I think. But quantifying stuff like this is pretty fraught, I guess.
posted by jonmc at 12:44 PM on January 27, 2006


because except for James Brown he did more to create the genre known as Funk than anyone else.

sorry, I have dumb fingers.
posted by jonmc at 12:45 PM on January 27, 2006


I'm with jonmc: Sly is right up there with George Clinton, Prince, and of course Soul Brother Number One, the Godfather of Soul, the Hardest-Working Man in Show Business, Mister James Brown in the Pantheon of Funk. And I really don't care how you choose to rank Funk among the world's musics. Get On The Good Foot!

I may actually have to watch the Grammy show this year...
posted by languagehat at 1:06 PM on January 27, 2006


Get On The Good Foot!

And All The Squares Go Home!

and put a glide in your stride and a dip in your hip and step on board the mothership...

and...

I'll stop now
posted by jonmc at 1:21 PM on January 27, 2006


Here in Austin we have Roky Erickson back and, though it's good he's recovering (from schizophrenia and 1960s Texas jails) it's still awful depressing in a way to see him play. You know he's doing it for us and not for himself; he has a permanently absent and sad face. If it were up to him he'd be happily back at home with five televisions on and no annoying people banging on his door with an Elevators LP to sign. But we continue to parade the local trophy! He even was the cover feature for Xmas in the Chronicle.
posted by Peter H at 1:53 PM on January 27, 2006


he did more to create the genre known as Funk than anyone else.

...Thus undoing all the good he'd accomplished before that.

Sidelight on Sly: the incredibly blatent Temptations ripoff era, beginning with "Cloud 9" and going on to "Ball of Confusion," "Runaway Child," etc. Has there ever been a more bald series of thefts?
posted by Faze at 1:54 PM on January 27, 2006


Faze, are you still bitter about not getting that Soul Train Lifetime Achievement Award?

Let it go, man....
posted by jonmc at 1:56 PM on January 27, 2006


xmas new years austin chronicle ROKY cover
posted by Peter H at 1:57 PM on January 27, 2006


I need more coffee. I read it as "Sly Stallone" for a moment and nearly had a heart-attack. Which woke me up enough to re-read the headline. Phew!
posted by ninazer0 at 2:42 PM on January 27, 2006


The Sly Stone burnout is one of my favorite rock 'n roll legends (Brian Wilson's original, lost "Smile" album tops the list). I don't know that I'd call Wilson's return as much a disappointment as, you can't tack a new ending onto the legend and really have it be the same. I mean, good for Wilson personally, good for his fans; I've seen him twice since he started performing again, doing "Smile" in its entirity last year and it was amazing; but it still comes up short to what might have been back in '66, and that's the key.

Sly coming back might be more of the same thing. He generated such intense, incredible music in the day that whatever he did now, no matter how good, no matter how welcome, no matter how much it might warm his fans' hearts to see him back performing, maybe even personally on the right track - he's 64 (or 61, or 62, or whatever) and the moment's just passed.
posted by kgasmart at 2:50 PM on January 27, 2006


Greil Marcus wrote about him brilliantly in Mystery Train. I still think Everyday People might be the most perfect 150 seconds of music ever recorded. From the opening chords to the jump-rope rhyme, crescendoing into that incredible identification at the end, what can touch it?
posted by allen.spaulding at 3:31 PM on January 27, 2006


Agreed, re both Mystery Train (still probably my favorite book of rock criticism) and "Everyday People."
posted by languagehat at 5:16 PM on January 27, 2006


Agreed, re both Mystery Train (still probably my favorite book of rock criticism)

I love Mystery Train but have you read any of Dave Marsh's stuff. Some passages in his biographies (esp. of Springsteen) are devastating.
posted by jonmc at 6:04 PM on January 27, 2006


Sly developed ulcer problems because of the stress, and began turning to a variety of drugs, primarily cocaine and PCP, for relief.

Really? PCP and coke relieve stomach ulcers?
posted by strawberryviagra at 6:10 PM on January 27, 2006


I didn't know the bit about the Black Panthers being angry Sly wasn't militant enough. I always thought of his music as being pretty positive given the the time in which it was made. I can't say I've listened to everything, being limited to Greatest Hits, Stand! and There's a Riot Going On.

I'm not sure I'd be keen on seeing him return to performing live, but I would like to hear what new material would be like.

I'm familiar with the staples of funk and it is obvious he really helped put that genre into the ears of white folk.
posted by infowar at 6:27 PM on January 27, 2006


One word about Sly & The Family Stone: Woodstock!

I thought Sly was coming back when he surfaced doing a duet with Jesse Johnson on "Crazay" from The Time's guitarist's 1986 solo album Shockadelica. He was even in the video and was looking good!

I was at the 80's gig in Fort Lauderdale the WaPo article mentions. Ouch, it was bad and the bust was surreal. As for tapes, I heard one I guess he didn't erase, a night in a studio with him and Jaco Pastorius (another tragic figure) getting way out there.

Does anyone want to see Sly like Roky Erickson, back but not quite? Maybe we should be careful what we wish for.
posted by bonefish at 6:50 PM on January 27, 2006


I saw him in 1980 at a tavern here. He had a crackerjack backup band--they were tighter than hell, could play anything and could follow his jumps from song to song. He was really into the medleys. Well, the truth is he was gone. He simply could not finish a song. I saw him on break between sets and his eyes were totally glazed--there was no light on upstairs, no one was home. People were trying to talk to him and he could not follow a sentence from the looks of it.

He came back for the second set and started playing the same old bits and pieces of the same songs. Over and over. All in all, it was a really sad experience.
posted by y2karl at 8:36 PM on January 27, 2006


Nothing puts me on a lounge chair in front of a pool with a cold one faster than hearing "Hot Fun in the Summertime."

obscure Canadian TV ref: I AM... the Wolf MAN...
posted by evilcolonel at 9:22 PM on January 27, 2006


I would love for Sly to be Sly again, and to see him perform. On a snarkier note, though, if he comes out with Syd Barrett, then I'm definitely watching the Grammies this year!
posted by yhbc at 9:31 PM on January 27, 2006


obscure Canadian TV ref: I AM... the Wolf MAN...
short mp3
posted by pracowity at 11:29 PM on January 27, 2006


I still think Everyday People might be the most perfect 150 seconds of music ever recorded. From the opening chords to the jump-rope rhyme, crescendoing into that incredible identification at the end, what can touch it?

And the fact that the bass line is ony one. f*cking. note. Listen to it again if you don't believe it. Talk about more with less. Damn.

I get seriously sad when I think about Sly. For someone whose music was so full of life and messages of such utter joy and hope to end up (or progress through, as the end is not up) so confused and unavailable is terrifying to someone like me, who really believes on some level in the healing power of music.

Come back, Sly! Even if it's just to teach music to kids. You don't have to be a star no moreā€¦
posted by al_fresco at 11:37 PM on January 27, 2006


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