I'm Just Like You: Sly's Stone Flower 1969-70 - V/A LP

(Light In The Attic Records, 2014)

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“As a label, Sly Stone's Stone Flower produced four singles in all, one promo-only, all written by Stone and many of them stripped-down revamps of older Family Stone material. But thanks to alternate versions, outtakes, and prototypical versions of later songs, I'm Just Like You doubles as the clearest available sonic roadmap for one of the most radical transformations in pop history.

The biggest breakthrough from this imprint was Little Sister, the post-R&B girl group comprised of Mary McCreary, Elva Mouton, and Stone's actual younger sister Vaetta "Vet Stone" Stewart. They'd already earned some measure of renown as backup singers on some of the Family's biggest hits and found another place in history when their 1970 version of Stand! deep cut "Somebody's Watching You" became the first major hit single to use a drum machine—a Maestro Rhythm King. It wouldn't be the last to do so in Sly's hands.

The clearest route through this evolution runs through Little Sister's music, five variations on three songs pointing to their unsung role in the Family and Sly's efforts to use them as a conduit for some of his newer ideas. It wasn't, however, an immediate shift. The first, full-band version of "Somebody's Watching You", included here, makes that later single version's minimalism even more striking: with clearer voices, bright horns, and a guitar figure that's more prominent than the final track's ghostly presence, it's hard to imagine it escaping the shadow of the Stand! original. Meanwhile, the debut Little Sister single "You're the One" doesn't have the historical import of "Somebody's Watching You", but it was a bigger hit; with its slippery, heavy-bottomed kick-cymbal pattern, its proto-disco bonafides are unimpeachable while it provides some of the last throes of "Thank You"-style twanging funk lingering in Sly's system.” - Nate Patrin for Pitchfork