3 May 2013

3rd May - Sly and the Family Stone's Stand!

Artist – Album: Sly & the Family Stone – Stand!
Released:  3rd May 1969
Sounds Like: What’chu talkin’ ‘bout, Sly?

Having grown up in England in the 90’s/00’s, there’s a whole raft of cheesy American family-orientated sitcoms that I know next to nothing about. Sure, the Fresh Prince of Bel Air continued the legacy of blatantly obvious jokes and riotous canned laughter, woops and uh-ohs right up to the end of the millennium (should that be willennium?), and unfortunately I couldn’t avoid the repeats of Married With Children that my Dad enjoyed inflicting upon us, but these were just the tip of the cosy and mostly unfunny iceberg.

One of the best loved was Diff’rent Strokes, the show that made a star out of Gary Coleman and was apparently quite funny (or so I’m told by countdowns like Channel 4’s Greatest Comedies Ever and E! Entertainments Greatest Child Stars – Where Are They Now?). Anyway, the point of this totally overly lengthy introduction is that that show has connections with this album – the brilliantly harmonious pop of ‘Everyday People’ introduced the phrase “different strokes for different folks” to the world at large. Throughout the album the group tackles issues such as racism and prejudice (notably in the aforementioned ‘Everyday People’, the title track ‘Stand!’ and on the no holds barred ‘Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey’) with the same basic but incontestable logic of one of the shows ‘very special episodes’. Finally, in the stirring funk of ‘I Want to Take You Higher’ the high pitched contributions from the band remind me of little Arnold and Willis – of “What’chu talkin’ ‘bout, Willis” fame.

Funky and uplifting, this album is a great introduction to Sly & the Family Stone’s sound before delving deeper into their more rewarding but dark and paranoid later works. ‘Sex Machine’ is a pointless long jam, and to be honest, ‘Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey’ is rubbish, but the rest – those that I’ve mentioned plus ‘Sing a Simple Song’ and ‘You Can Make It If You Try’ – are absolute gems.

Albumaday... rating:  7/10

1.       Stand! – 3:08
2.       Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey – 5:58
3.       I Want to Take You Higher – 5:22
4.       Somebody’s Watching You – 3:20
5.       Sing a Simple Song – 3:56
6.       Everyday People – 2:21
7.       Sex Machine – 13:45
8.       You Can Make It If You Try – 3:37

Listen to ‘I Want to Take You Higher’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDjnB_61k58

Also released on the 3rd May:
2005: The Hold Steady – Separation Sunday
Also released on the 3rd May:
2011: Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

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