Sly And The Family Stone / Freaky Styley 1968 – 1975
1968 - 1971
01 Dance To The Music / Single A Side January 1968
02 I Ain’t Got Nobody / Dance To The Music April 1968
03 Colour Me True / Dance To The Music April 1968
04 Are You Ready? / Dance To The Music April 1968
05 M’Lady / Single A Side June 1968
06 Life / Single B Side June 1968
07 Everyday People / Single A Side November 1968
08 Sing A Simple Song / Single B Side November 1968
09 Dynamite / Life November 1968
10 Fun / Life November 1968
11 Into My Own Thing / Life November 1968
12 Love City / Life November 1968
13 Stand / Single A Side April 1969
14 Don’t Call Me Nigger Whitey / Stand! April 1969
15 I Want To Take You Higher / Stand! April 1969
16 Somebody’s Watching You / Stand! April 1969
17 You Can Make It If You Try / Stand! April 1969)
18 Hot Fun In The Summertime /Single A Side August 1969
19 Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) / Single A Side December 1969
20 Everybody Is A Star / Single B Side December 1969
21 Family Affair / Single A Side October 1971
22 Luv N’ Haight / Single B Side October 1971
1971 - 1975
01 Just Like A Baby / There’s A Riot Goin’ On November 1971
02 Poet / There’s A Riot Goin’ On November 1971
03 Africa Talks To You / There’s A Riot Goin’ On November 1971
04 Brave And Strong / There’s A Riot Goin’ On November 1971
05 (You Caught Me) Smilin’ / There’s A Riot Goin’ On November 1971
06 Time / There’s A Riot Goin’ On November 1971
07 Spaced Cowboy / There’s A Riot Goin’ On November 1971
08 Thank You For Talkin’ To Me Africa / There’s A Riot Goin’ On November 1971
09 In Time / Fresh June 1973
10 If You Want Me To Stay / Fresh June 1973
11 Frisky / Fresh June 1973
12 Skin I’m In / Fresh June 1973
13 Babies Makin’ Babies / Fresh June 1973
14 Que Sera Sera / Fresh June 1973
15 Time For Livin’ / Single A Side July 1974
16 Can’t Strain My Brain / Small Talk July 1974
18 Crossword Puzzle /High On You October 1975
As a turn of the decade soul man, Sly Stone was the coolest, head and shoulders above most everyone else in a time when there were more soulsters than ever before. Even as a young kid I can still clearly remember ‘Everyday People’ and ‘Family Affair’ blaring over the radio, my old man tapping his feet to some of the most perfectly crafted, galvanising music of all time. Infact, no-one epitomised that uncertain period between the late sixties and early seventies more than Sly. While others paid lip service to such high faluttin’ ideals as racial integration, sexual equality and fighting the man, he put all the rhetoric into practise.
To create his new world, where the libertarian truths of Haight Ashbury’s privileged white bohemians were applied to the struggle for civil rights, Sly recruited a clan of black and white brothers and sisters so creating a radical, revolutionary brew of proto funk grooves and gospel positivity. While black nationalists were preaching separatism, the diverse racial composition of The Family Stone made crossover seem like a political utopia.
Even more radical was the crucial role of women. No longer used as mere decorations, they were fully integrated as musicians to become a crucial element of the group’s music. Both gorgeous cacophony and perfect pop bliss, they gave life to some of the greatest protest songs ever written, the message so strong it was seized on by the Woodstock generation, the group tearing up the crowd in the summer of 69’. These were truly the good times, the subject of much teary eyed TV nostalgia, yet within a year love, peace and equality had been buried in a never ending avalanche of murder, violence and cynicism.
No-one felt the effects, or raged against the dying of the light as much as Sly Stone. By 1971, amidst rumours of drug addiction, unreliability and pressure from black nationalists, the group’s new album had been endlessly delayed. When it finally emerged in November 1971 as There’s A Riot Goin On, it was light years away from the positivity of old, the ‘different strokes for different folks’ tolerance replaced with destructive, semi-coherent rants of scorn, derision and confusion from a man clearly on the edge, all buried deep within an instrumental fog of deconstructed riffs and worn out tape. At the same time as Marvin Gaye was making What’s Going On as an article of faith in the power of music, Sly was highlighting his pessimism by pointing out that actually nothing was going on.
After such a resolute, definitive, classic statement, Sly was left staring down the barrel of a gun. As his trusty lieutenants lost patience with his increasingly unpredictable nature and began to desert him, he managed to pull back from the abyss albeit briefly. Fresh was the first fruit of his enforced retreat, considerably lighter in sound than its predecessor and very much a last blast as the law of diminishing returns kicked in, each album thereafter meaning and selling less and less.
These days, Sly is the shadow of a man chewed up and spewed out by a system he tried to fight from within, all his despair and frustration ultimately turning him into just another drug fucked freak. Now almost 70, most people believe he died sometime in the late seventies and in many ways it would have been better if he had. But he still turns up occasionally with his crazy Mohawk and silver suit, a sad, sad caricature of one of the most brilliant musicians of our time.