Mandatory Listening: Recording Academy® Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Sly Stone

PC Muñoz

Here at the SF Chapter we heard the news about Sly Stone’s 2017 Recording Academy® Lifetime Achievement Award and Sly & the Family Stone’s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin”) induction into the 2017 GRAMMY Hall of Fame®  with great big Bay Area pride and funk swagger. Born Sylvester Stewart in Texas and reared in Vallejo, CA, Stone is a true California legend and popular music pioneer. His amalgamation of funk, pop, and psychedelic R&B, brought to life via the multi-hued and multi-gendered Family Stone, has inspired everyone from Prince and Steven Tyler to Joan Jett and George Clinton and beyond. Below is a YouTube playlist of 12 mandatory-listening Sly Stone tracks (some hits, some deeper cuts) to take you higher.

1. “Thank You for Talkin' to Me Africa” from There’s a Riot Goin’ On (1971)
A sonic and hermeneutical inversion of the 2017 GRAMMY Hall of Fame® song “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)", this is arguably Sly at his funkiest. Click here

2.  “In Time” from Fresh (1973)
Sly Stone is an incredibly poetic and criminally underrated lyrical conceptualist. Listen closely to the wordplay here.

3.  “Love City” from Life (1968)
A breakbeat favorite, for obvious reasons. Click here

4. “I Want to Take You Higher” from Stand (1969)
A manifesto/archetype of sorts. Click here

5. “Everyday People” from Stand (1969)
“I am no better, and neither are you." Click here

6. “ Underdog" from A Whole New Thing (1967)
More proto-hip-hop here; important and still-relevant track from the first Sly & the Family Stone album. Click here

7. “Dance to the Music” from Dance to the Music (1968)
A “hit” created under the orders of record man Clive Davis; often touted as the blueprint for late ‘60s psychedelic-flavored R&B. Click here

8.  “Poet” from There’s a Riot Goin’ On (1971)
Slinky existential declaration; later prominently sampled by De La Soul.
Click here

9. “You Really Got Me” from Ain’t But the One Way (1982)
Sly’s waltz-soul version of “Que Sera Sera” (on Fresh) deftly showed how he could re-imagine a tune from an entirely different genre. This one’s worth hearing for the way he renders the verses alone. Click here

10.   “Hydraulic Pump” by P-Funk All Stars, from Urban Dancefloor Guerrillas (1983)
Technically a P-Funk collective track that is credited partially to Sly. For further Sly/P-Funk collabs, also check the two “Funk Gets Stronger” tracks on Funkadelic’s Electric Spanking of War Babies. Click here

11. “Crazay” by Jesse Johnson from Shockadelica (1986)
Fun to hear Sly collaborating with a Minneapolis heir. Click here

12.“Plain Jane" from I’m Back! Family & Friends (2011)
Promising slice from this decade. Click here


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