Rare Soul From Sly Stone

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After his recent blown-comeback shows — an underwhelming appearance at the 2006 Grammys; the debacle at Coachella this year — it is safe to assume there will be no new music from Sly Stone any time soon. So remember him this way: with the late-Sixties and early-Seventies hits; the groundbreaking rainbow-soul albums; and the hip side trips and prime-era outside productions on Listen to the Voices: Sly Stone in the Studio 1965-1970 (Ace). A previous rare-Sly survey, Precious Stone: Sly Stone in the Studio 1963-65 (Ace), focused on dance-party and R&B-vocal sessions from his tenure as the house producer at San Francisco's Autumn Records. Listen to the Voices starts close to the breakthrough, with four pre-record-deal demos by Sly and the Family Stone, a pair of tracks Stone did with his guitarist brother's band, Freddie and the Stone Souls, and a brisk 1965 garage-rock demo of "Underdog" — the opening song on the Family Stone's 1967 debut LP, A Whole New Thing — cut here by Stone with the Beau Brummels. "Life and Death in G &A," a 1969 single credited to Abaco Dream, is a dead ringer for the Family Stone, a grunt'n'grinder that would have fit just fine on Stand! Stone's attempt, after his Woodstock triumph, to run a boutique label, Stone Flower, ran aground along with the rest of his career as drugs, ego and consuming paranoia took over. But of the few Stone Flower singles he got out in 1970, the two in this collection by the female vocal group Little Sister — the saucy two-part bump "You're the One" and a version of Stand!'s "Somebody's Watching You," done with the rhythm-machine foreboding of Stone's final victory, 1971's There's a Riot Goin' On — capture him still on the upswing.