Different Strokes By Different Folks

It's been years since the last truly memorable tribute album; most listeners have become so jaded about them that it would take an extraordinary effort to pull one off. The people behind Different Strokes by Different Folks certainly made an effort: Various permutations of rappers, rockers and neo-soulsters were invited to rework the original Sly and the Family Stone recordings from the late Sixties and early Seventies. The results are half sizzle, half fizzle: The Roots' nimble recasting of "Everybody Is a Star" shimmers — shame it already appeared on their 2004 LP The Tipping Point. Big Boi with Sleepy Brown and Killer Mike, John Legend and Joss Stone with Van Hunt, and Steven Tyler with Robert Randolph all contribute credibly. However, other performers either bring it by-the-numbers (Will.i.am, Moby) or maladroitly burlesque Sly's masterful biracial, mixed-sex rock-funk-soul collective (Maroon 5; Devin Lima, ex-LFO). Heaven knows that giving some propers to Sly Stone is a noble, if not overdue, notion. But for too many of the artists on Different Strokes, when they tip their hat they show their ass.