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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Deconstructing Sly Stone Circa 1975-78

"High On You' was a great Sly Stone album but it bombed. Why? It was as good an album as Sly had ever composed. "High on You" should have been a solid Top 40 hit but it wasn't. "Crossword Puzzle" should have been a megahit, patterned after "Higher" or "Stand" but it wasn't. There are at least 6 hits on that album. So if the tunes were artistically solid, why didn't they continue on the tradition of "If You Want Me To Stay" on the Fresh ablum in 1973? Although Sly & the Family Stone had crashed and burned by 1973, Sly still had some hits in him, but they did not take with the business or the public. We have to attribute this to the fact that the wave had washed by Sly because many other groups had adapted his sound and techniques. So Sly was not so 'unique' anymore.

Larry Graham hit it big too for about 4 years after leaving the Family Stone, but his star was over too by 1980 and Prince was blending Sly, Hendrix, James Brown and Funkadelic. So if "High On You" had hit in 1970 right after Woodstock and "Thank You," it would have been a smash hit. But five years down the road, the fascination had run out, even when the artist produced a solid album. Sly hit again artistically with "Back On The Right Track" in 1978, but the public had moved on by then. Sad because "Back" was another artististic breakthrough. This had to be frustrating for Sly because he had to know that he was producing quality product, but the pubic simply was not buying it. And it had nothing to do with missed concerts and band defections. It is just that the vapor of fame and 'being hot' is just that. It is there for a moment and then it is gone. But know that Sly & the Family Stone WAS the vapor for about three years and Sly was the mist for about 2 more. And nobody can take that away from them or him.
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