Over 15 years ago, I had an idea I suggested to Rhino Records that came from me spotting a 45 I found on Stone Flower Records. The Atlantic-distributed subsidiary was short lived but was a label given to Sly Stone as a way for him to record new music. In truth, it has been said that Stone wanted to come out with new music outside of his Epic Records soundtrack so as he was putting together what would become his There’s A Riot Going On album, he went into the studio to release a lot of material. I had learned that Little Sister, which featured Stone’s sister Venetta Steward, had recorded a full album meant for release, but remained in the tape vaults at the last minute when Sly finished the Family Stone album form Epic. So I knew more music existed. I figured Rhino Records would be the label to contact since it’s a Warner Bros.-related label, Atlantic is distributed by Warner Bros., it wouldn’t be difficult to come up with the masters. I did not get a response from Rhino, and I thought it would be a way for fans to hear music I felt already had a potential audience, and collectors would go nuts over it.
15 years later, Seattle’s Light In The Attic have released a compilation that is very much exactly what I wanted Rhino to do so what became Rhino’s loss is now LITA’s gain. I’m Just Like You: Sly’s Stone Flower 1969-70 features the four 45’s Stone Flower Records released, plus a wealth of songs that had remained unreleased until now. If you are a fan of Sly Stone, then you have definitely heard Little Sister’s “Somebody’s Watching You”, “Stanga”, and “You’re The One (Parts 1 & 2)”. If you are a Stone collector, you most likely picked up or heard of 6iX and the song “Just Like You”. You may have even heard of an early version of “Life & Death In G & A (Parts 1 & 2)” by Acaba Dream, released by A&M but was Sly & The Family Stone incognito with Hicks on vocals. In Hicks’ own version, it’s much slower, sleazier, grittier, dirtier but very much sexier. In truth, while the vocalist on these songs were by others, all of the music was entirely played by Sly Stone, and all come off as skeletal elements of what would become There’s A Riot Going On, consider this a deep deluxe edition in a way.
What you also get on hear is the single Hicks released through Scepter Records, “Home Sweet Home – Part II” and “I’m Goin’ Home”. Both had Stone involvement and the label said it was a Stone Flower production, so it seems Stone was trying to find yet another label to release his music. If there are any major highlights on an album that is a highlight in itself, it’s the songs credited solely to Sly Stone, including an early version of “Africa”. One gets a sense that he was getting deep into himself as he was putting these together, but arguably this may have been the seeds of what happened when Stone started to lose himself as well. The man was a wizard in the recording studio and understood the roles he played inside, so what we’re hearing is a master that was up there with people like Frank Zappa, Todd Rundgren, Paul McCartney, and Stevie Wonder Stone deserves to be ranked up there with the musical geniuses, and is example of the shadows someone like Madlib is in with his great production techniques.
In a greedy matter, I would have loved to have been an executive producer for a project like this had Rhino Records given the go-ahead. Today, I look at Light In The Attic Records as a label that came up with the idea too and did I’m Just Like You: Sly’s Stone Flower 1969-70 properly. For me, this was long-awaited and fortunately, they did it right. Job well done.