HOLLYWOOD — The last time the music business caught a glimpse of Sly Stone was 12 years ago, when he made a late appearance at his induction ceremony into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Starting today, he’s back.
Though the funk legend has been away from the public eye, Stone has given his blessing to a new collection of remakes and remixes, as well as a career overview being offered at Starbucks.
The 11-track remake/remix set includes Maroon 5 doing “Everyday People”; John Legend, Joss Stone and Van Hunt on “Family Affair”; “You Can Make It if You Try,” with Buddy Guy and John Mayer; and “I Want to Take You Higher,” with Steven Tyler and steel guitarist Robert Randolph.
The version of “Dance to the Music” by Black Eyed Peas’ Will.I.Am appears in the Columbia film “Stealth.”
Despite all of the heavyweights involved — and the fact that Starbucks is the exclusive retailer until Sony Legacy puts out an expanded version on Sept. 30 — the Seattle coffeemaker has been remarkably mum about the project while touting releases from Alanis Morissette and Zucchero. “Different Strokes” goes on sale today.
Sly and the Family Stone’s best-known work was recorded between 1968 and 1974; his last recording was for Warners in 1983. While Sony has one of the most aggressive reissue divisions in the industry, the Family Stone albums have not been touched in a decade, and the only repackage came three years ago from Sony’s Epic Legacy.
Epic Legacy will issue its version of “Different Strokes” with different liner notes and two additional tracks: “Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey” and “Thank U (Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin).” Artists working on the tracks have not been inked.
Insiders are hopeful the projects spark a renewed interest in the Sly and the Family Stone catalog and lead to the first-ever boxed set from the band and cleaned-up and expanded versions of the original albums.
As is the case with so many catalog releases, the true beneficiaries are the individuals and companies with the rights to the publishing. In this instance, that would be a man who could use some income — Michael Jackson.