Sly & the Family Stone

Sly & the Family Stone, Oscar Songs and Lydia Loveless

Jerry Martini and Cynthia Robinson of Sly & the Family Stone talk about the band's funk innovation, radical politics and Sly's magnetic power. Plus, Jim and Greg roll out the Oscar red carpet and review a new album from the alt-country singer/songwriter Lydia Loveless.

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Former LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy has been keeping busy since the group disbanded in 2011. When not scoring Broadway plays and roasting speciality coffee, he's taking on New York City's notoriously noisy subway system. Murphy wants to change the soulless beeps made by current subway turnstiles into melodic notes that harmonize and respond to the amount of traffic passing through the station. Murphy first revealed this plan to Jim and Greg last year, but now he's making his campaign public. So far, New York City's Metropolitan Transit Authority isn't particularly warm to the idea, citing the significant cost and time, but Murphy remains undetered.

The good news for costumed rockers Kiss is that they'll be inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April. The bad news is that the band won‘t be compromising it’s creative integrity (a first, Jim says) by performing at the induction ceremony in its current iteration (which excludes original members Ace Freely and Peter Criss). With bad blood between Freely, Criss, and Gene Simmons, there's no hope for a make-up in time for the ceremony. But, Jim thinks purist Kiss fans would probably prefer to see no show than a show without the original Spaceman and Catman.

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Cynthia Robinson and Jerry Martini of Sly & the Family Stone

In the 1960's, Sly & the Family Stone, with its multi-racial, co-ed lineup, broke down barriers of how a band should look and sound. It also bridged rock, funk, R&B, soul and jazz, thanks in large part to its virtuoso musicians: guitarist Freddie Stone, bass player Larry Graham, drummer Greg Errico, keys player Rose Stone, trumpeter Cynthia Robinson and sax player Jerry Martini. Then, of course, you have Sly Stone, one of the most charismatic frontmen in music history. But, once the charming star who stole the show at Woodstock and on Dick Cavett, Sly Stone dropped out of public life in 1975. We've had occasional glimpses since then, but for the most part his legend only lives on in recordings. Luckily fans have a new box set called Higher! Upon its release, Jim and Greg spoke with Cynthia Robinson and Jerry Martini.

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Oscar Songs 2014

When it comes to movies, Jim and Greg defer to the Academy. But, when it comes to music, they aren't as casual. 2014 has been a banner year for pop music in the movies, with three of this year's Best Original Song nominees topping the charts. In fact, this kind of crossover hasn't happened since 1984, when all five nominees hit #1. First, there's Idina Menzel's ubiquitous "Let It Go," from the animated Disney hit Frozen. Written by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez of Book of Mormon fame, it's a flashy show tune—the "Diane Warren power ballad" of Greg's nightmares—that fails to impress our hosts. Not so with "The Moon Song," from the film Her. Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who co-wrote the song with director Spike Jonze, has since released a duet with Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend. This quiet, intimate tune wins Jim's statuette, even if it's too low-key for the Academy.

Greg's giving his award to "Happy" from Despicable Me 2. While Mr. Kot admits to living under a rock when it comes to kids' movies, he considers Pharrell's single, with its layered vocals and handclaps, a pop masterpiece (despite the mediocre lyrics). Jim isn't as happy and thinks that Pharrell phoned this one in. Meanwhile, U2 took a break from ending world hunger to record a new song for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. While the film got little attention in the U.S., "Ordinary Love" has something else working in its favor: the media empire of Harvey Weinstein. His aggressive promotion already won the song a Golden Globe for Best Song, and could similarly sway the Academy…but not our hosts. Despite the noble subject, Jim and Greg just hear standard U2 flag-waving.

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reviewSomewhere ElseIndestructible Machine available on iTunes

Lydia Loveless Indestructible Machine

At just 23, Lydia Loveless already has three albums worth of romantic troubles, documented with amazing emotion. The latest, Somewhere Else, might be the best yet, according to Jim and Greg. Greg enjoys the way she arranges the songs in a slightly melancholic country style. He was blown away by her last release, Indestructible Machine in 2012 (especially the songs she performed in our studio). But this album is a step above. Greg says Buy It. Jim hears Loveless going all over the pop spectrum, name dropping Tommy Tutone and pulling out a great cover of a song by the underrated '90s artist, Kirsty MacColl. And throughout it all she maintains her own identity. He seconds the Buy It.

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Featured Songs

  1. James Murphy, Untitled subway music, Unreleased, Freely available online, 2014
  2. Kiss, Rock and Roll All Nite, Dressed to Kill, Casablanca, 1975
  3. Sly & the Family Stone, I Ain't Got Nobody (For Real), Higher!, Epic/Legacy, 2013
  4. Sly & the Family Stone, Advice, Higher!, Epic/Legacy, 2013
  5. Sly & the Family Stone, I Hate to Love Her, Higher!, Epic/Legacy, 2013
  6. Ike & Tina Turner, Bold Soul Sister, The Hunter, Blue Thumb, 1969
  7. Sly & the Family Stone, Dance To The Music (Mono), Higher!, Epic/Legacy, 2013
  8. The Roots, Star/Pointro, The Tipping Point, Geffen, 2004
  9. Sly & the Family Stone, Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) (Mono), Higher!, Epic/Legacy, 2013
  10. Bobby Freeman, C'mon and Swim, Do You Wanna Dance?, Collectables, 1958
  11. Sly & the Family Stone, Family Affair, There's a Riot Goin' On, Epic/Legacy, 1971
  12. Sly & the Family Stone, Hot Fun in the Summertime (Mono), Higher!, Epic/Legacy, 2013
  13. Sly & the Family Stone, Thank You for Talkin' to Me Africa, There's a Riot Goin' On, Epic/Legacy, 1971
  14. Sly & the Family Stone, Brave & Strong, Higher!, Epic/Legacy, 2013
  15. Sly & the Family Stone, You Can Make It If You Try (Live at the Isle of Wight Festival, August 30, 1970), Higher!, Epic/Legacy, 2013
  16. Sly & the Family Stone, We Love All, Dance to the Music, Epic/Legacy, 2007
  17. Sly & the Family Stone, Color Me True, Dance to the Music, Epic/Legacy, 1968
  18. Sly & the Family Stone, Wonderful World Of Color (Instrumental), Higher!, Epic/Legacy, 2013
  19. Idina Menzel, Let It Go, Frozen (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), Walt Disney, 2013
  20. Karen O, The Moon Song (End Title Credit), The Moon Song (Music From and Inspired By the Motion Picture Her), WaterTower, 2014
  21. Pharrell Williams, Happy, G I R L, Columbia, 2014
  22. U2, Ordinary Love, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (Soundtrack), Decca, 2013
  23. Lydia Loveless, Wine Lips, Somewhere Else, Bloodshot, 2014
  24. Lydia Loveless, Verlaine Shot Rimbaud, Somewhere Else, Bloodshot, 2014
  25. Lydia Loveless, They Don't Know, Somewhere Else, Bloodshot, 2014
  26. Lydia Loveless, Hurts So Bad, Somewhere Else, Bloodshot, 2014
  27. John Belushi, Louie, Louie, Animal House – Original Soundtrack, MCA, 1978
  28. St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Call Me, Half the City, Single Lock, 2014
  29. Dr. Octagon, Earth People, Dr. Octagonecologyst, Dreamworks/SKG, 1996
  30. David Bowie, Starman, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Virgin, 1972
  31. Sun Ra & His Omniverse Arkestra, Calling Planet Earth, Destination Unknown, Enja, 1992
  32. Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Karn Evil 9: 3rd Impression, Brain Salad Surgery, Manticore, 1973
  33. MC Frontalot, Disaster, Zero Day, Level Up & Tapes/Nerdcore Fervor, 2010
  34. MC Frontalot, Final Boss, Final Boss, Level Up & Tapes/Nerdcore Fervor, 2008
  35. Neptune Massive, Plastoon, Plastoon (Single), freely available on MySpace, 2008

Footnotes

lcdsoundsystem.com LCD Soundsystem rollingstone.com James Murphy's Musical Turnstiles kissonline.com Kiss rollingstone.com No Kiss performance at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame slystonemusic.com Sly & the Family Stone slystonemusic.com Higher! popmatters.com Greg talks to Sly Stone youtube.com Sly at Woodstock vimeo.com Sly on Dick Cavett whosampled.com Sly Stone sampled latimes.com Sly Stone's woes hollywoodreporter.com Who Will Prevail in the Competitive Best Original Song Race? imdb.com“Her”on IMDB rollingstone.com Frozen soundtrack hits #1 spin.com U2 wins Golden Globe for“Ordinary Love” 24hoursofhappy.com Pharrell's 24-hour“Happy”music video lydialoveless.com Lydia Loveless youtube.com Tommy Tutone kirstymaccoll.com Kirsty MacCall