Sly Stone: I’m Back! Family & Friends

Sly Stone: I’m Back! Family & Friends
In 1993, Sly and the Family Stone were inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. The induction was seemingly much deserved. In their heyday, the band released number one singles like “Everyday People,” “Family Affair,” and “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).” Drug use ultimately derailed the band and Sly became a virtual recluse. Perhaps that is what makes I’m Back! Family & Friends so surprising. After a 29 year hiatus from recording, Sly returns with his first “new” studio record.
I put new in quotation marks because none of the songs on the album are actually new. Basically, I’m Back! Family & Friends contains re-recorded versions of Sly’s best-loved hits featuring a smattering of guest stars. The guest range in legitamacy from Carmine Appice (who?!?) to recent Rock N Roll Hall of Fame inductee Jeff Beck.
The guest star I was most interested in hearing was The Doors‘ Ray Manzarek. Manzarek lended his legendary keyboard sound to Sly’s classic “Dance to the Music.” The version is so true to the original that most casual listeners would have difficulty deciphering between the two. The only thing that really stands out about Manzarek’s guest appearance is his ability to sneak a bit of the Doors’ “Light My Fire” keyboard riff into the song during his one real solo part.
Ann Wilson from Heart guests on Sly’s classic “Everyday People.” Again, untrained ears would mistake this version for the original. The only real difference is Ann Wilson’s vocals are not nearly as soulful as Rose Stone‘s.
It is hard to give the album a bad rating because the originals were all awesome so as long as the guest performer does not ruin the track, it is pretty safe that the new version is awesome as well. But the whole album leaves me thinking “what was the point of this?” If the songs are not going to sound any different, would not most people just listen to the originals? I guess the point is to get Sly back in the studio which the album ultimately did.
Rating: 7.5/10
MP3: Sly Stone featuring Ray Manzarek “Dance to the Music”
Buy: iTunes