Released just a few months after Dance to the Music, Life relied more on fuzz guitars and psychadelia to deliver brilliant, intoxicating slices of funk-pop that are hard to resist. Now with 4 bonus tracks, 3 of which are previously unreleased.
What a difference a decade can make: the original 1995 reissue of Life
, Sly and the Family Stone's too-often-overlooked third album, would've triggered few associations beyond the singer's fans (and those who love killer soul-rock hybrids). In 2007, though, the opening shot of "Into My Own Thing" blares as the framework for Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice," a rising, organ-and-horn melody statement with a taut, snare-drum thwack as its spine. Then Sly and the Family are off, talking about meditation and a big, bright 1968 vibe they ushered the prior year before with Dance to the Music
. The tune titles tell a story: "Chicken," "Love City," "Fun," and the sheer musical cheer of "Harmony," the playful tuba and organ of "Life," even the opening fuzz-guitar grit of "Dynamite!"--these make Life
transitional, a bridge from Sly's hard-hitting funk riffage to more rock, more pop. The album flopped commercially in 1968--the psych-funk of "Plastic Jim" and its "Eleanor Rigby"-inspired refrain "All the plastic people / What do they all come for" superseded quickly by the release later in the year of the brawnier, peppier "Everyday People." That latter tune launched the band's 1969 fourth album, Stand!
, to significantly new commercial heights (and larger narcotic appetites). Onward and upward. --Andrew Bartlett