Sly Stone - I'm Back! Family & Friends
2011, Cleopatra Records
August 16, 2011 is the day that Sly Stone makes his grand return. I'm Back! Family & Friends is Stone's first new album since 1982, and finds him collaborating with the likes of Ray Manzarek (The Doors); Ann Wilson (Heart), Johnny Winter, Jeff Beck and Bootsy Collins.
With little new to offer, I'm Back! Family & Friends relies on some of Stone's most cherished songs. "Dance To The Music" gets updated with the subtle help of Ray Manzarek, capturing the catchy, danceable magic of Stone's heyday. "Everyday People" is solid. Ann Wilson's guest vocal is solid, but the part she takes up is fairly mundane. "Family Affair" gets a solid update, while Carmine Appice & Ernie Watts lend their instrumental expertise to the inspired but messy "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)." Jeff Beck sits in on "(I Want To Take You) Higher", providing some flashy fretwork in the process. Bootsy Collins adds some style to "Hot Fun In The Summertime" without greatly changing the flavor of the original.
The rest of the collection features mixes of "Dance To The Music" (2), "Family Affair" and "Thank You", as well as one-offs "Plain Jane", "Get Away" and "His Eye Is On The Sparrow", making the collection seem as it is, a retread of past hits updated for today.
I'm Back! Family & Friends is likely to appeal to long time Sly Stone fans, but other than the names of those sitting in with Stone and some new dance mixes, has little to offer to anyone who already has the original recordings. Sly Stone's voice certainly isn't what it once was, and I'm Back! Family & Friends plays like a cynical effort by Cleopatra records to extract cash by repackaging old songs in new clothes. The songs are familiar and loved by many, but available too many other places to plunk your money down for this collection.
Rating: 2 Stars (Out of 5)