Sly & The Family Stone’s There’s A Riot Goin’ On was not only a retort to Marvin Gaye’s equally seminal What’s Going On album, but a collection of tracks that seamlessly fused rock with funk and soul whilst reflecting on the racial and political divide in early 1970s America.
Although they burnt out and imploded just a few years later, to this very day Sly & The Family Stone’s influence on hip-hop, r’n’b and rock cannot be underestimated. Prince probably would not have existed without Sly Stone paving the way.
Stone is perhaps one of the trailblazers least expected to pen a memoir, having pretty much disappeared from public view at the start of the 1990s – leaving behind decades of excess and success which pushed the needle off the scale in both directions. Thank You (Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) – titled after one of the best-known Family Stone songs – comes as a welcome surprise, and one well worth the wait.
Things kick off brilliantly with an informative and entertaining introduction written by Questlove from The Roots, with each following chapter broken down into easily digestible yearly segments. What becomes apparent is that Stone is honest, unpretentious and self-effacing, yet electrifying throughout, with tales that reach incredible highs and lows in every sense.
Much like Sly’s music, there is never a dull moment within these pages. Groundbreaking albums like There’s A Riot… and Stand! (from 1969, and also strongly recommended) are supplemented ith full disclosure of what happened during, after and next. With Thank You (Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Agin), Stone ably balances the personal while getting down to the nitty-gritty.
Thank You (Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Agin): A Memoir, Sly Stone with Ben Greenman (White Rabbit)
Price: £25/£125 signed deluxe edition. Info: here
words DAVID NOBAKHT