February 2015

Sly Stone ‘I’m Just Like You’ Album Review

It’s almost impossible to review the work of a musical genius. All they create is usually perfect for the most part. This album could allow for some missteps since the majority of the track listing is compiled of rough cuts, sketches, and unreleased alternate takes. Fortunately, and with all praise to Sly, this album only further cements the fact that Sly Stone is, and will always be a musical genius. When listening to material that was purposely not released to the public one would expect to hear something of lesser value but “I’m Just Like You” delivers top quality and then some. Comprised of material from the years 1969 and 1970 (right after Woodstock and right before the Family Stone would release their legendary ‘There’s A Riot Going On’ album) this album is a compilation tracks that were set to be released on Sly Stone’s short lived ‘Stone Flower’ label with distribution through Atlantic. After Woodstock Sly Stone was at the top of the world musically and as many do at this point he did a pretty abrupt 180, the future notoriously reclusive and elusive star locked himself in a studio with just a Maestro Rhythm King drum machine, the ‘Funk Box’ as the band would eventually come to call it, and his instruments and started what is perhaps the first collision of what is computer based equipment and live instrumentation. This amazing clash was something for listeners and it is not known if Sly used the drum machine just for sketches and demos only or truly intended to have finished songs come out with a locked in computer driven drum beat. ‘Riot’ a year later would come to utilize this technique but with this rare glimpse into Sly’s process we see early recordings of songs some with the ‘Funk Box’ keeping the beat and some with the full live band appearing a little bit later in the track listing. Most artist only want the listener to hear the final product but on this compilation their is a beautiful and more coherent version of “Just Like A Baby”  and version of “Somebody’s Watching You’ sung by the group Little Sister and some of Mr. Stone’s funkiest tracks yet are handed off to  San Fransisco soul singer Joe Hicks. With thumping basslines infused with rigid and precise drum programming underneath signature gospel organ riffs, all of course digitally remastered for the best sound, Sly Stone manages to drop another perfect album almost 50yrs after its conception. Even as just sketches and alternate takes this album is flawless and a much cherished piece of musical history. Another bonus to being a genius is that your work can be released half a century later and still be just as powerful.

Rating: 10/10


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The visuals are released for the latest Kanye West single which features legendary artist and former Beatle Paul McCartney.

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