Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Crossword Puzzle" by Sly Stone

"Crossword Puzzle" is a super-funky track by Sly Stone that didn't get a lot of play when it was released back in 1975.  The track is from Sly's highly underrated album High on You, which is the first album attributed to Sly Stone rather than Sly & the Family Stone. Sly wrote, produced and arranged the song, as well as played guitar and keyboards.

Bobby Vega's nimble bass work keeps things nice and funky, and Little Sister provides some soul-stirring background vocals. In the song's lyrics, Sly presents his sharp social observations in his inimitable hip-poet fashion.

Around the time that High on You was released, most of the original members of the Family Stone had left the band, and the album is essentially a solo effort by Sly. However, some of the band's original members did make appearances on the album. Sly's brother Freddie (an original Family Stone member) played guitar and provided vocals on a few tracks. And original band members Cynthia Robinson (Trumpet) and Jerry Martini (Saxophone) played on most of the tracks. Sly also enlisted a few session musicians to play on the album as well as more recent additions to the Family Stone, such as bass player Rustee Allen, who replaced Larry Graham following his departure from the band in 1972.

During this period, Sly & the Family Stone's fan base had shrunk considerably since their heyday in late '60s and early '70s when they were selling out huge venues and topping the charts. This was due in large part to Sly's increasingly erratic behavior and his crippling cocaine addiction. This started causing great internal friction within the band, which resulted in several members jumping ship. However, High on You showed that Sly was still very capable of creating great music when he was so inclined. In addition to "Crossword Puzzle," the album boasts other forgotten funk gems, such as "I Get High on You" and "Organize."

Purchase High on You CD at Amazon

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