Today is SLY STONE's birthday. I love him like the sun in the sky.
If I said what I really feel about this guy, we'd be here all year. So let's keep it simple. SLY & THE FAMILY STONE invented Funk as you know it, and rewrote Rock, Jazz, Dance, and Rap forever afterward.
> -SLICE TONES: Sly Stone & His Infinite Influence!,
with 5 Music Players
But today, let's follow how one single tune -"Sing A Simple Song"- relays that sonic baton beyond all boundaries to this very day.
S I M P L E
S O N G
"Sing A Simple Song", and the album STAND after it, defined the new super heavy Funk that superceded Soul. The trademark descending "yeah yeah yeahs..." are sung by sister Rose Stone.
SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE -"Sing A Simple Song" (1968)
Here's New Orlean's finest to extend the funky vamp.
THE METERS -"Sing A Simple Song" (1969)
Here's they are again to extend the same song again into a new song with a winking title.
THE METERS -"Same Old Thing" (1969)
Now welcome the Dutch Indo sisters Bianca, Stella and Patricia Maessen, putting some sitar sting in it.
THE HEARTS OF SOUL -"Sing A Simple Song" (1969)
After having a hit covering Sly's "I Want To Take You Higher", Ike And Tina give the funky women some with this wholecloth rewrite.
IKE AND TINA TURNER -"Bold Soul Sister" (1970)
The guitar rhythm of "Sing A Simple Song" gets abstracted by JIMI HENDRIX here, and then played explicitly at the 0:30 minute mark.
BAND OF GYPSIES -"We Got To Live Together" (1970)
Here's Joe Walsh getting some more power strut out of that guitar riff (0:27).
THE JAMES GANG -"Funk #49" (1970)
Here's an ultra-Funky Reggae gloss on it.
THE MEGATONS -"Funk The Beat" (1970)
Sly's longtime running partner Billy Preston takes the title of the song and cheekily crosses it with the sentiment of Melanie's "What Have They Done To My Song, Ma".
BILLY PRESTON -"I Wrote A Simple Song" (1971)
It is the framework of this production by Sly-acolyte Norman Whitfield, a cover of Motown label-mate Edwin Starr.
THE TEMPTATIONS -"Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On" (1972)
HERBIE HANCOCK takes the guitar vamp and flies into the future of Jazz Fusion with it.
HERBIE HANCOCK + HEADHUNTERS -"Sly" (1973)
Kerrie kicks it out like the whole Family all by herself on this rockin' cover.
KERRIE BIDDELL -""Sing A Simple Song"" (1973)
George Clinton and the P-Funk mob borrows the descending "yeah yeah yeahs" for the chorus of this interstellar groover.
PARLIAMENT -"Unfunky UFO" (1975)
That Space Funk approach permeates this first HipHop cover of the original, including some uncanny impersonations of bassist Larry Graham.
WEST STREET MOB -""Sing A Simple Song"" (1982)
P-Funk's Punk/Funk proteges borrow the "yeah yeah yeahs" for their chorus, too.
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS -"Behind the Sun" (1986)
Another P-Funk disciple, PUBLIC ENEMY collages parts of it all the way through this protest jam. ("Sing A Simple Song" is also central to their "Party For Your Right To Fight", and is used again in several other songs.)
PUBLIC ENEMY -"Brothers Gonna Work It Out" (1990)
"Sing A Simple Song" has been sampled by over 400 artists, including Grandmaster Flash, Big Lady K, Stetsasonic, Digital Underground, De La Soul, Jungle Brothers, Mellow Man Ace, Kool Moe Dee, LL Cool J, Stereo MC's, TLC, Prince, A Tribe Called Quest, Ice-T, EPMD, Arrested Development, The Pharcyde, Common, Cypress Hill, Me Phi Me, Paris, Run-DMC, Del the Funky Homosapien, Erick Sermon, KRS-One, 2Pac, MC Solaar, Soul II Soul, Björk, Michael Jackson, Lenny Kravitz, Alanis Morissette, Barry Adamson, Masaki Sakamoto, DJ Shadow, The Beatnuts, Musiq Soulchild, and Snoop Dogg.
Bringing the familial full circle, here's D'Angelo, Chuck D, and Isaac Hayers covering the song with the original remixed in.
D'ANGELO, with Chuck D and Isaac Hayes -""Sing A Simple Song"" (2005)
Here's Staten Island's THE BUDOS BAND with a killer remake of the song channeling Fela along the way!
THE BUDOS BAND -"Sing A Simple Song" (2005)
I'm givin' givin' givin' love and smilin' at the frowns
You're in trouble when you find it's hard for you to smile
A simple song might make it better for a little while!"
© Tym Stevens
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