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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Living In The Past


Most extraordinary outdoor musical event of the summer has to be Lovebox in Victoria Park. If the posters on the Tube are anything to go by they've got more acts than all the other events put together. Which is fine and I hope the sun shines on them.
What I don't understand is how Sly and The Family Stone get to be top of the bill on the Saturday night. For about three years at the turn of the 60s Sly Stone made wonderful records, but ever since he decided to get married on stage at Madison Square Garden he's been pretty much barking. His appetite for drugs is well documented and he hasn't plinked out a note of consequence since 1973. His behaviour for the last forty years has re-defined "erratic". Promoters in the US stopped using him when Richard Nixon was President because, well, mostly he didn't turn up.
There have been sad attempts to get back to the garden across the years, most recently a Grammy Awards appearance in 2006 where he could only bring himself to stay on stage for three minutes. One can only surmise that the reason some loon has decided to pay him good money to allegedly appear at Victoria Park is because his lack of activity has lent lustre to his legend and, as is the case of Brian Wilson, there are people who will pay to see a casualty provided they can see that casualty through the smoke and mirrors of mystique.
Sly had one brief shining moment at Woodstock. We were all fortunate that the cameras were there to record it. The idea that anyone still believes it will be re-created 40 years later is desperately sad.

4 comments:

  1. If I'd thought that they may have been as good as this, I might almost have been tempted eastwards.

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  2. 'Everybody! Dance To The Writ For Non -Apperance!' (Repeat to fade)

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  3. Hmmm, the Brian Wilson shows we see now is basically Brian with America's best Beach Boys tribute band. Wonder who'll be in 'The Family Stone'

    Through the magic of Youtube here's a tribute to Sly Stone "He's best know for popularising the Aaaauuurrrrghhhhh sound!" Keep watching, it gets better as it goes along.

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  4. Sam J B10:53 am

    Hello everyone, I've been listening to Sly's music ever since I arrived at College in London (over 15 years ago!). I also wrote a dissertation on his musical influence, and have been tracking him ever since...in the (mostly forlorn) hope that one day in the future he would clean up and take to the stage again.

    Now that we're almost there and Sly has re-appeared like a ghost, with a badly injured neck and presumably a ravaged nervous system caused by his extensive substance abuse, it's a strange series of mixed feelings to have ticket to his concert in the UK later in the month.

    Since his disappearance over 20 years ago the internet and the worldwide media now scrutinizes stars and performers very closely, and reviews of shows are posted almost instantly for a mass audience to read. The reviews of his 'warm up' shows in the U.S. Italy and Holland earlier this month haven't been good, mainly because Sly is only well enough to appear for 15 minutes each night as part of a medley of his hits. The band is made up of one or two members of the old Family Stone, two of his daughters and other supportive friends/musical colleagues, but there's a real possibility that the tour won't make it as far as London at all.

    What genuine lovers of his music are left wondering is - would it be better to still have the memory of that vital performance of Sly and the Family burning bright at Woodstock in your minds eye, or have it replaced by seeing a burnt out, frazzled eccentric genius, hobbling onstage at 64 with a neck brace and listen to him mumbling and seemingly unable to remember the words to his 60s & 70s anthems?

    It's a sad story whatever way you look at it. I will go just purely just to see Sly, almost to pay my respects, as it's the end of an odyssey for me...Regardless of what Sly has done to himself, the music he created had a key role in shaping the consciousness of African Americans and entertained people around the world with it's simple poetic sense and new take on rhythm. Sly Stone was one of the key cornerstones of funk and r'n'b music, and for that if nothing else - he will be remembered, long after the memory of these attempted shows has passed.

    You can read reviews of concerts at: www.slystonebook.com

    SJB

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