Sly & the Family Stone – Back On the Right Track (BSK 3303) (1979)

Just talent sometimes just go away? It cost me 50p to find out. And the answer is…no.  At least not in man called Sylvester Stewart’s case.

Sly's inner sleeveThe critical line on just about anything past Fresh (1972), perpetuated in a recent Mojo (March 2010) feature, is that Sly had run outta juice. It’s simply wrong. Back On the Right Track (1979) is a really good, consistent record; it’s full of great playing, great singing and it sounds great. Sly's FrontPerhaps the album (and Sly’s latter career) suffers in comparison with the innovation that preceded it. Right Track is relatively slick compared to There’s A Riot Goin’ On, say, and stylistically echoes past glories (the distinctive bass line from “Thank You” crops up as does the “Take You Higher”‘s ‘yeah yeah…’ vocal hook, not to mention the same rhetorical point being made in “It Takes All Kinds” as “Everyday People”), but it still has the funk, and no mistake. Honestly, some people just can’t be satisfied. Sly's Back

Published in: on April 4, 2010 at 1:30 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Well, TV- I have to agree with you that Mojo got it wrong, at least about some of Sly’s post-‘Fresh’ output…
    For example, I was surprised by how relatively cold they were to ‘Small Talk’ (1974). I recently picked up ‘Small Talk’ on vinyl at a yard sale in Columbus, OH for a buck and it seems almost impossible to me now that I had never heard it before, especially considering that it’s from around the same period as ‘Fresh’ (1973, just to correct you slightly) and considering how much I’ve always loved that album.
    ‘Loose Booty’ from ‘Small Talk’ is one of THE coolest things I’ve ever heard and I still really don’t know how they did it.
    Sure, maybe not every song on the album is as strong as all that, but it IS all quite good and, for my money, any album with such high points deserves a bit more respect than that.
    BTW – for anyone else who is unfamiliar with the ‘Small Talk’ album – ‘Shadrach’ by the Beastie Boys (from the ‘Paul’s Boutique’ album) relies almost entirely on lengthy, direct samples of ‘Loose Booty’ and, especially if you’re only now hearing the Sly & the Family Stone original for the first time as I recently was, you will instantly see that there was never any need for a remake. Ever.

  2. I’d be more than happy to find Small Talk for 50p at the next Canterbury bootfair.

  3. And, uh, by calling “Fresh” a 1972 album, I meant that that was when Sly began recording it.

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