On the Sly – an Ickmusic Giveaway

Sly and the Family Stone
Photo credit: SBMG Archives

“Black, white, Puerto Rican everybody just a freakin,’ good times were rollin…” – Prince “Uptown”

Prince sang these lyrics on his 1980 album, ‘Dirty Mind.’ He practiced what he preached with his backing band from the very beginning. Surrounding himself with black folks, white folks, male, female. But it was nothing new. More than a dozen years earlier in San Francisco, Sylvester Stewart, aka Sly Stone, had assembled a band of much the same makeup. In 1967, Sly put together the now legendary Family Stone: Fred Stewart (guitar, vocals), Larry Graham, Jr. (bass, vocals), Greg Errico (drums), Jerry Martini (saxophone), and Rosie Stone (piano), and Cynthia Robinson (trumpet).

Their mixture of funky, psychedelic, rock & soul shook up the Bay Area, at a time when bands like Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead were doing some serious mind blowing of their own. Oh, to be a young person living in Haight-Ashbury in the late 60’s. Loord have mercy… Kaboom! goes the brain.

Sly and the Family Stone were signed to CBS’s Epic Records in 1967 by one Clive Davis. Between ’67 and ’74, they released seven groundbreaking albums which would go on to influence countless numbers of performers down the road, including our boy Prince. In fact, if you think about it, what band has been more influential overall on Prince? Larry Graham, after all, is the reason Prince won’t curse anymore, and the reason he changed “Sexuality” to “Spirituality”. Yep, Larry’s the one that turned Prince on to life as a Jehovah’s Witness. No birthday for you!

So Sly’s breakthrough album was 1969’s ‘Stand’, which included such funkalicious staples as “I Wanna Take You Higher”, “Sing a Simple Song”, and “Everyday People.” As the idealism and flower power of the 60’s ended, Sly pretty much lost himself in addictions to drugs, particularly cocaine and PCP. The man reportedly used to carry around a violin case full of drugs everywhere he went.

Sly pretty much dropped off the map as the seventies came to a close, and has struggled with addiction ever since. He popped up to help The Time’s Jesse Johnson on Jesse’s second album, ‘Shockadelica’, singing on “Crazay” in 1986. Since then, he was pretty quiet until 2006’s Grammy Awards, when he popped up on stage looking about 10 different types of cuckoo. I think he’s stil making an effort to clean up and get back on stage. I think I heard he showed up at a Vegas gig recently? There’s a great place to kick your addicitions…

So all seven of these albums (listed below) were reissued by Epic/Legacy in early April. I got my hands on ‘Stand!’, and for some reason, I’m going to give it away to one of you fine folks. This reissue has five bonus tracks: three mono singles and two previously unreleased bonus tracks.

The winner will be selected from the comments using a secret, proprietary formula. Or by having my one year old point to the screen. Or whichever one thoroughly entertains me. Or… you get the idea. No rhyme or reason really. Good luck! And check out some of these tracks and reissues.

Sly & the Family Stone Streamage – comin’ at ya in Real format! Keepin’ it real! Kaboom!


Everyday People (single version)

Stand! Track List

(Epic/Legacy 82876 75912 2, originally issued April 1969, as Epic 26456)

1. Stand! (3rd single, R&B #14, Hot 100 #22) • 2. Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey • 3. I Want To Take You Higher (4th single, R&B #24, Hot 100 #60/1969, Hot 100 #38/1970) • 4. Somebody’s Watching You • 5. Sing A Simple Song (2nd single, R&B 28, Hot 100 #89) • 6. Everyday People (1st single, Hot 100 #1, R&B #1) • 7. Sex Machine • 8. You Can Make It If You Try • Bonus tracks: 9. Stand! (single version, mono) • 10. I Want To Take You Higher (single version, mono) • 11. You Can Make It If You Try (unissued/cancelled single version, mono) • 12. Soul Clappin’ II (previously unreleased) • 13. My Brain (Zig-Zag) (instrumental track, previously unreleased). Produced by Sly Stone.

Note: All tracks recorded 1969, except: tracks 5, 8, 11 recorded 1968.

Buy it:


Sly & the Family Stone’s Official Site

The Reissues:

• LIFE (1968)
• STAND! (1969)
• FRESH (1973)
• SMALL TALK (1974)

Aaron Neville at the McDowell Mountain Music Festival

Aaron Neville, originally uploaded by ick1999.

It was a loooong, satisfying day yesterday at the McDowell Mountain Music Festival. My wife and I rolled up at about 1:30, right when the music kicked off. We made it until about 9:30, partly into Ratdog’s set. Unfortunately, Mr. Migraine decided to make an appearance and made my wife’s later evening an unpleasant one.

But the whole day can be be summed up in five simple words: Tell It Like It Is. Yep, the highlight for me was seeing Mr. Aaron Neville sing his 1966 classic. It was one of the most exhilarating and special live music moments of my entire life. I stood at the front of the stage and took it all in. And my Canon SD630 was there too to capture most of the song. I had it bumped down to low resolution, so the video and audio quality isn’t great, but this is what I got to experience.

At the end of the song, you’ll hear some yahoo scream “Yeeahh! – – baby!! – – I LOVE it!!”. Uh, yeah, that was me.

To see all of my photos from the festival, check out my Flickr photoset of the day.

Rita Moreno and Animal: Fever

Since I introduced my daughter to the Mahna Mahna video, we’ve been on a YouTube / Muppet Show frenzy ’round here. She’s particularly fond of Animal. I warn you, if you’re in your 30’s and up, and you were a Muppet Show watcher back in the day, prepare to be sucked in for several minutes on end.

Here’s a funny one with Rita Moreno…


McDowell Mountain Profile: Ratdog

photo courtesy of Alan Hess: http://www.shotlivephoto.com/

Headlining the McDowell Mountain Music Festival tomorrow night is Bob Weir and his band Ratdog. The band originally formed as a side project for Bob and his friend Rob Wasserman. They picked up former Primus drummer Jay Lane and guitar / harmonica player Matthew Kelly and hit the road in 1995. For those that don’t know, Bob Weir was the rhythm guitar player and founding member of the Grateful Dead (did I need to mention that?). Ratdog’s songbook has consisted primarily of Dead tunes, Weir solo tunes, and the wealth of Bob Dylan tunes that the Dead also enjoyed playing over their 30 year career. Only Bob and Jay Lane remain from the original Ratdog lineup (Wasserman left in 2003), but they’re still going strong. This summer, they’ll be touring the U.S. with jam-guitar man Keller Williams.

Judging by a Weir interview I read in the local paper today, I can look forward to seeing some Ratdog / Neville Brothers collaborations tomorrow night. Did I mention I’m excited?

RatdogMasters of War (mp3) – Dylan cover, live, unknown date & location – great version of a great song that rings OH SO TRUE today.

Ratdog Heaven Help the Fool (mp3) – live, September 2nd, 1995 – original comes from Weir’s 1978 solo album of the same name – this is hands down one of my favorite versions.

  • Ratdog’s Official Site.
  • Stream / download some live Ratdog shows on Archive.org.
  • Current Ratdog lineup: Bob Weir (vox, guitar), Jay Lane (drums), Jeff Chimenti (keyboards,vox), Kenny Brooks (sax, vox), Mark Karan (guitar, vox), Robin Sylvester (bass, vox)

Odds and Ends

icky thump

McDowell Mountain Profile: The Neville Brothers

neville brothers
Photo by Beate Sandor

Now we’re getting to the really fun part. I’m excited as hell to say that I’m gonna see the Neville Brothers on Friday! As I mentioned in another post, I saw them at a cool festival in May 1996 called Laguna Seca Daze at the Laguna Seca Race track in Monterey, California (a festival that also included a “Being There”-era Wilco). I remember a really amazing moment as they were playing a version of the Dead’s “Fire on the Mountain” as the sun was setting (nope, not “Fire on the Bayou”). There were rolling green hills behind the stage, and around the bend on a distant hill road came a red fire truck with lights on and the faint sound of the siren. Amazing imagery (pfffffffssstt – pass it on!). Mindblowing dude! 😉

So where do you even start with the Nevilles? They are an institution in their hometown of New Orleans. Brothers Ivan, Aaron, Cyril, Art and Charles released their first record as the Neville Brothers in 1977 (self-titled). The brothers were active prior to that. Most notably, Art was a founding member of soul/funk pioneers the Meters. For a full bio, check out their site. So thirty years later, here they are still going strong, touring as ambassadors for their suffering city. As New Orleans Jazz Fest kicks off this weekend, I’ll have the honor of catching the Nevilles here in my home, Arizona. I consider myself very privileged.

The Neville BrothersYellow Moon (mp3) – live in KBCO studios, Boulder

Previous MMMF Profiles: Gelatinous Groove | 2 Tone Lizard Kings | Tea Leaf Green | Grace Potter & the Nocturnals

McDowell Mountain Profile: Grace Potter & the Nocturnals

grace potter and the nocturnals

Next up on the big stage Friday: Vermont band Grace Potter & the Nocturnals. Grace leads the band with her killer soulful voice and a Hammond B3. The Nocturnals are made up of Scott Tournet (guitar), Matthew Burr (drums), and Bryan Dondero (bass). The fine folks over at Hidden Track swear by her, and they are true aficionados of today’s jam scene, so I’m looking forward to the live GP & the Nocturnals experience. Judging by a recent live show I checked out on Archive, it should be good.

So this summer will see their third release, This is Somewhere. Here’s a sneak peak at one of the tracks…

Grace Potter & the NocturnalsAh Mary (mp3)

Watch Grace & the Nocturnals tear up “Mystery Train”.

Previous MMMF Profiles: Gelatinous Groove | 2 Tone Lizard Kings | Tea Leaf Green

ManaMana: for the kids

My 3 year old daughter’s favorite commercial of the moment is one with the “manamana” song (can’t even remember what product they’re advertising). No idea on the origin of the song, but a co-worker thinks it may be a Muppets creation. Anyone?

Leroy Justice’s Purple Rain

Leroy Justice

Ya know, I gotta say, this is one of the finer Prince covers I’ve heard. And certainly the best cover of “Purple Rain”. I’ve seen Phish’s cover live, and, as much as I loved the band, I never cared much for the cover, because it seemed to be more of a parody than a heartfelt version of a song they really respected. I mean, the drummer – John Fishman – would play the guitar solo part on a vacuum cleaner. But I guess I’m just a sensitive Prince fan, I dunno. But then again, a lot of Phish’s covers were tongue in cheek.

So a member of my Prince board sent me this cool, twangy, earthy version of the song performed by New York City band Leroy Justice. I don’t know much about them at this point besides the fact that they list Otis Redding, Steve Martin, and John Prine as influences on their MySpace page. For that, they are good in my book.

Leroy JusticePurple Rain (mp3)

Song appears on their album, Revolution’s Son. Coincidence?

McDowell Mountain Profile: Tea Leaf Green

tea leaf green

Third to take the stage at this Friday’s McDowell Mountain Music Festival is San Francisco jam band Tea Leaf Green. I was trying to get a chat lined up with the guys prior to the festival, but it looks doubtful considering they’re busy on the road, and I waited until only a week before the festival to get in touch with them. But look for something in the near future.

Anyhoo, the boys in Tea Leaf Green are made up of keyboardist/vocalist/ and main songwriter Trevor Garrod, guitarist/vocalist Josh Clark, bass man Ben Chambers, and drummer Scott Rager. They’ve been going strong in northern California since the late 90’s, and have really built up a loyal and growing fanbase through their live performances. They caught the attention of Phish’s Trey Anastasio, who brought them out on the road to open for him. They’ve since opened for Gov’t Mule, Dave Matthews Band, and Bruce Hornsby.

TLF has gone from playing the small clubs (including Tempe’s former dive bar with a heart, the Sail Inn) to selling out San Francisco’s Fillmore in a few short years. I’m waiting for my eMusic monthly downloads to roll over to pick up some of their stuff, but I did grab a few off their latest, Rock ‘n’ Roll Band, which was recorded live at Boulder, Colorado’s Fox Theater in 2006. The release also includes an accompanying DVD, which I’ll have to check out.

I’m really looking forward to checking them out on Friday. Here’s a kick ass introduction to Tea Leaf Green, a 10-minute journey through power jam goodness…

Tea Leaf GreenFranz Hanzerbeak (mp3)

Check out Tea Leaf Green on: their official web site | their MySpace | Archive.org | YouTube

Buy Rock ‘n’ Roll Band:

Previous MMMF Profiles: Gelatinous Groove | 2 Tone Lizard Kings