Release Date: Aug 16, 2011
Record label: Cleopatra
Genre(s): R&B, Soul, Funk, Pop/Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Psychedelic/Garage, AM Pop, Psychedelic Soul
A new Sly Stone album! Well, kinda. His first new release since 1982 is basically a Sly Plays Sly tribute album, in which the reclusive funk genius pairs up with classic-rock "friends" (Ray Manzarek, Ann Wilson) to rerecord his greatest hits. The results are spunky, if unnecessary: Why bother with Sly and Jeff Beck's remake of "(I Want to Take You) Higher" when you can listen to the torrid original? Of prime interest are three new songs – a brass-and-organ-driven take on the gospel standard "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" and two originals: the gutbucket funk of "Plain Jane" and "Get Away," a gorgeous soul vamp with a refrain – "Keep singin' that melody!" – that whets the appetite for a full-fledged Sly comeback.
Sadly, the funk legend’s third record since 1976 with an ”I’m back!” sentiment in the title does not herald a return to form. Pals such as Ray Manzarek and Jeff Beck do their best to enliven new versions of Family Stone classics like ”Dance to the Music,” but mostly tread water. The covers aren’t terrible — it’s just that no sane person would prefer them to the originals.
Sly Stone slipped off the radar long before he slid into seclusion, his long fadeaway beginning at the peak of disco, his Reagan-era albums for Warner roundly ignored. He disappeared after 1982’s Ain’t But the One Way, yet rumors of a comeback continued to surface well into the new millennium, gaining momentum in 2006 when Sly gave his first public appearance in decades during that year’s Grammy Award tribute to Sly & the Family Stone. It was, like so much surrounding Sly, a botched performance, but he did venture out for some genuine concerts not long afterward and an excellent 2007 Vanity Fair piece from David Kamp suggested that Stone was working on new music, music that would constitute a genuine comeback, modestly raising expectations that Sly may have finally pulled his act together.