No one takes a 1965 Ford Mustang Convertible, lowers it, installs 20-inch wheels and says that they have updated a classic. The modifications are out of place and without good taste.
Similarly, Sly and the Family Stone’s latest release, ‘Different Strokes by Different Folks,’ steers clear of good taste with its remixed versions of classic Sly songs redone by such modern popular musicians like Maroon 5, Joss Stone and John Mayer. Most of the CD lacks the distinctive appeal which made Sly so popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The soul of the band the CD supposedly pays tribute to is lost in the muck of many songs, including ‘Star’ by Roots. The character of the original Sly song has been whittled down to one chorus repeated endlessly as a platform on which the Roots rap. Although the themes discussed in the new song are similar to those in the original, the new ‘Star’ is nothing more than a rap song which has borrowed from a 1970s classic.
The Wylde Bunch’s ‘I Get High on You’ also fails to meet expectations. The listener must sort their way through two-and-a-half minutes worth of rap and chorus to get a snippet as to how the original song actually sounded. The rest of the song doesn’t make me want to bob my head, dance or even smile.
There is a big difference between modernizing a song to make it more commercial for a younger generation of listeners and debasing the quality and goodness of an original set of classic soul/funk songs. When I listen to songs on a CD like this and cannot instantly hum the melody of each song, there is a problem.
Had the 14 songs on this collection been presented separately on various other CDs, most of them would have been fine songs in their own right. But the songs pale in comparison to the originals.
This is not to say the CD is a complete bust. Maroon 5’s take on ‘Everyday People’ is in another league above every other song preceding or following. The band’s trademark sound is heard while the entire base of the song remains.
John Mayer lays down a soulful, funky rendition of ‘You Can Make It If You Try’ late in the CD. The song is spiced with Mayer’s vocals and great instrumental interludes which will have listeners jamming on air guitar.
Will.I.Am’s opening ‘Dance to the Music’ is passable and Steven Tyler tries rocking on ‘I Want to Take You Higher’ with questionable success.
Much of the music from this CD was featured on the telecast for the 48th Grammys last week. However, without the visual appeal of the stars behind the attempted musical appeal, there is only one, maybe two songs which might meet your personal iPod music standards. Otherwise, this CD is best left alone until you can find it very cheap used.