Friday, October 14, 2005

Sly and the Family Stone: I Ain't Got Nobody/I Can't Turn You Loose (Loadstone 3951)

Can you say 'harbinger of things to come?' Ladies and gentlemen, here we have the first 45 of a group who would later help to change the face of soul with hits like "Dance to the Music" and "Thank You (Fa Lettinme Bemice Elf Agin") and the immortal LP "There's A Riot Goin' On." You know who I'm talkin' about, the one and only Sly and the Family Stone.

Prior to this, Sly (Sylvester Stewart) was both a well-known soul DJ in San Francisco and a major player in Autumn Records, home of The Beau Brummels and The Mojo Men, whom he wrote and arranged songs for. Sly had also recorded a number of solo singles, including "Buttermilk, Parts 1 and 2." This 45 came out in 1966 and if it shows anything at all, it shows that Sly and the Family Stone were truly running on all cylinders.

"I Ain't Got Nobody," a Sly original, is a full-throttle hip-shaker with a driving beat and good, loud funk guitar and organ arrangements. Oh and don't forget that horn section to give it more punch. At a couple of moments, Sly stops it all to give a couple of fast-pace raps on the kind of woman he's looking for..."She don't have to wear no wig/She don't have to be too big.......Life is all she has to live/And love is all she has to give..." You get it all in 2:44 minutes: raucous funk, stop-start pauses, raps, buildups to crescendos....the works.

Is it possible to ever do a bad version of "I Can't Turn You Loose?" (Heck, even Tom Jones did a good one.) Well, you won't hear one on this record. On "Nobody," they lit the fuse. On "Loose," they explode. Sly and the band really come out on fire on this oft-covered Otis Redding classic and they not only do Otis proud, they bring their own thing to the song. I can't describe how they do it, but I know they do. Your ears'll tell you.

The following year, Epic signed the band and they recorded their first album "A Whole New Thing." We won't go into the sordid events of their later years. We're here to celebrate a time when a smokin' new group was just planting the seed. And we're here to dance. How could this record not help?


Phil said...

What does the 45'slabel look like? Can't say as I'm familiar with this little toe-tapper...

Brian Marshall said...

You'll see when I get it posted. That is, whenever I can get it posted.