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Music Review: Sly & The Family Stone – High On You

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Sly Stone returned in late 1975 with what was essentially a solo release as the album does not officially credit Family Stone members yet still boasts the band's name. It would set the tone for the rest of his career as, upon occasion, he would use former Family members but would mainly hire session musicians to fill in the sound where needed.

1975 found disco on the rise and funk established as a commercially viable musical form. High On You would be a product of its time. It may not have been cutting edge but it contained some pleasurable and accessible funky moments. It was now such groups as The Ohio Players who were breaking new ground as a listen to their Skin Tight, Honey, and Fire albums will quickly verify.

In some ways it is amazing that Sly was able to produce an album at all. Drugs and the disintegration of family and group had taken their toll. While not of the caliber of such classics as Stand, There’s A Riot Goin’ On, or Dance To The Music, it proved that he could still produce credible and listenable music.

The first three tracks are excellent. “I Get High On You,” which is sort of an autobiographical connector between drugs and women contains pop/funk rhythms and is as energetic as anything Sly would produce during the seventies. “Crossword Puzzle,” with its often humorous lyrics, is another party song which Sly was so expert at crafting. Here it is the use of brass that drives the song along. “That’s Lovin’ You” is the only true ballad on the album and Sly manages a clear voiced and emotional performance. If the other seven tracks had been as good we may have had something here.

“So Good To Me” does contain a nice bass line and “Green Eyed Monster Girl” has some interesting keyboard work that meanders in and out of the mix throughout the song. However, such songs as “Le Lo Li,” “Greed,” “My World,” “Organize,” and “Who Do You Love?” are basically Sly trying to reinvent himself and only ending up as a shallow imitation of his best work.

When thinking of the music of Sly & The Family Stone, High On You is usually a forgotten afterthought. In fact, my vinyl copy does not leave the shelf. It is, however, interesting in places and a good example of seventies music. In the final analysis, though, it remains an inoffensive but ultimately non-essential release.

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