Wednesday, August 1, 2012

186. Fresh. Still not passed its used by date

Album: Fresh
Artist: Sly and the Family Stone
Genre: Funk
Year: 1973

  1. In Time
  2. If You Want Me to Stay
  3. Let Me Have It All
  4. Frisky
  5. Thankful N' Thoughtful
  6. Skin I'm In
  7. I Don't Know (Satisfaction)
  8. Keep on Dancin'
  9. Qué Será, Será (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)
  10. If It Were Left Up to Me
  11. Babies Makin' Babies

Fresh is funky. Damn Funky. Sly and the Family Stone are four extremely groovy individuals from the same family who started out as gospel singers but got a divinely inspired urge to pioneer a new sound. Along with James Brown they can claim credit for inventing what we now call funk. And thank the Lord they did (can I get an Amen!)

More than any other genre, Funk requires all its musicians to be very good at what they do. Pop can get away with a sub-average vocalist (as long as they look good), Rock can get away with a mediocre drummer or bass player and Punk can get away with an entire band that have only picked up an instrument that morning, but Funk needs a lot of talent. A funk drummer has to play some pretty complex beats and the bass player has to drive the thing forward. The guitarist has to send out some quickfire chords and manage some soloing and if the vocalist can't hit a huge range of notes with genuine enthusiasm while strutting the stage then the whole thing is worthless. It's incredibly demanding music which is why James Brown used to be so harsh on his backing band and it explains why truly great funk bands are few and far between.

Sly and the Family Stone are a damn talented outfit. Sly Stone is a true multi-instrumental prodigy who is a master of a range of instruments and his family are no slouches either. Everything on this album works which is why it's such a great listen. There's conspicous talent dripping off every track and no matter where your ear turns someone who is damn good at what they do is having a great time.

Of course it's all for nought if there aren't good songs to funk to and Sly could write a tune as well as play, sing and produce one. If you want me to stay is a great song that more people should hear in its original form and everything else, including the cover of Que Sera Sera is just golden.

If you've never heard Sly and the Family Stone then give this a listen and enjoy. It's magnificent stuff.

Influenced by: James Brown
Influenced: Everyone who brings on the funk

Highlight: If you want me to stay
Lowlight: Babies makin Babies

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "This would have to be one of my DID's."

-That took me a while. DID? DID? I assume it stands for Desert Island Disc

So is this Fresh or on the nose? Let me know below.

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