Sly & The Family Stone – A Whole New Thing

ARTIST: Sly & The Family Stone 220px-Sly-wholenewthing-1967origi
TITLE: A Whole New Thing
SINGLES: Underdog
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Wow, this didn’t make much of an effect on radio at all. It’s forgotten, really.
LINEUP: Sly Stone, Freddie Stone, Larry Graham, Cynthia Robinson, Jerry Martini, Greg Errico
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: San Francisco DJ and producer forms a group by combining his first lineup with his brother’s band, and gets signed by Clive Davis. The record has highlights, but stiffs.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It’s hard to imagine as big of a group as Sly & the Family Stone was that their first record was a commercial failure, yet here we are. Frankly, the issue boils down to commercial hooks. These 12 tracks are fine, and demonstrate the versatility and chops the band has, but only the single “Underdog” had any memorable hooks that would drive radio play.

What we have here is a dilemma that forced the record company to intervene. They had talent, yes, but Sly Stone’s writing wasn’t conducive to the commercial market. They needed the hits to become successful, since they had too much rock for soul and too much soul for the psychedelic rock folks. So the next album began the hit parade, and this was quietly left in print but not promoted.

It’s a decent album, but not where I’d start for Sly. “Underdog” could have been a hit had it been six months later after they were established. Timing, you know.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The backing vocal group on some cuts were the band Little Sister, which Sly started on request of his younger sister.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, B-sides and extra cuts. There’s an instrumental that’s pretty tight.

GRADE: B: Good, but needed a couple of hooks here and there.

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