The Dutch label ReGrooved Records is coming with yet another unearthed gem on vinyl. This time around, it's early work of the incredible, unpredictable, one and only Sylvester Stewart, better known as Sly Stone. A true legend who needs no further introduction. You're most likely familiar with his catalog with Sly and the Family Stone like 'Everyday People', 'Dance To The Music', 'If You Want Me To Stay', him being a musical and cultural visionary with enormous influence on today's music. These days, Sly is sort of famous for staying away from the public eye, and although he never stopped making music, he hasn’t toured or given an in-depth interview in years.
Sly Stone has lived and breathed music with his entire being since the beginning of times, way before the notorious success of Sly and the Family Stone came along. Let's rewind a bit, real quick. Growing up in a profoundly religious and musically encouraging household, Sly had formed a gospel band early on with his three siblings, called Stewart Four. By the age of 11, he picked up piano and was able to solo on drums, bass, and guitar. In High School, he became the only black member of a doo-wop group called Sly and the Viscaynes, also played in other bands, enrolled at a local college. Studying music composition and music theory, writing and producing a few hits for Autumn Records as a staff record producer while working as a disc jockey at soul Radio KSOL in San Francisco... He has never made a secret of his beginnings as a teenaged hopeful in Vallejo, California, in the early 60s. However, for many of us, this might be the first refreshing opportunity to catch a glimpse into the discography of the young Sly. And it's so different from the sound he eventually became famous for. Now, especially if you're a sucker for doo-wop and gospel, brace yourself and get ready for a dose of nostalgia with Yellow Moon.
So, until now, Sly’s earliest works have been spread around on a parade of unauthorized collections, mostly with low-fidelity sound, artificially extended versions, and tracks by unrelated artists. ReGrooved Records, based out of the vinyl pressing plant Deepgrooves in Leeuwarden, has put together this release in collaboration with the Hague twin brothers Arno and Edwin Konings, biographers of Sly Stone and Alec Palao of Ace Records. They have published several books and co-produced a film about the funk legend. According to Robert Wiersum of Regrooved Records, they have been searching for Sly for many long years in the U.S. and once they finally found him, they developed a good friendship. The brothers did all they could to help get him out of his debt situation and even arranged for the unearthed music catalog (that he still owns the rights to) to be released for the world to hear. These are some rare cuts, like the old tapes of singles with Sly & The Viscaynes, followed by releases as a solo, recordings from Los Angeles with producer George Motola, that comprise the fascinating apprenticeship Sly needed to undergo on the road to fame.
This special 2 LP set complements the recent Ace Records CD of the same title and adds a brace of additional, exceedingly rare Sly-related material. Along with the original singles by The Viscaynes, and Sly’s first solo releases as Danny (Sly) Stewart and Sylvester Stewart, there are also several unissued demo tracks produced by teen idol and Viscaynes mentor Gary Stites, plus the sought-after Jasper Woods 45, featuring an incognito Richard Berry with the Viscaynes on vocal support. Exclusive to this vinyl edition are a rare High School recording by an early incarnation of the Viscaynes, both sides of the 1961 Royal Aces single on which Sly plays guitar, and as a special bonus, the Stewart Four gospel release from 1956, featuring a teenaged Sly on lead vocals – his very first appearance on disc. 'Walking in Jesus Name' and 'On The Battlefield' was originally a single local 78rpm single release, contents of which can be found on side 4.
Yellow Moon: The Complete Recordings 1961-1962 is the last word on Sly Stone’s first phase, and this vinyl edition is a must for any fan of his work. The deluxe package comes with an authoritative and heavily illustrated 16-page booklet with liner notes by Alec Palao, much thus-far unpublished information, and fresh interview material from the group and associates, as well as commentary from Sly himself. Exclusively on vinyl, with a few samples to be found on ReGrooved Records YouTube channel for those of you without turntables.
Coming soon on ReGrooved are many more exciting releases like this one for the funk/soul lover in you. Among others, also Sly Stone recordings from the period just before The Family Stone, including demos, rare, unknown tracks, and versions that haven't been published before. Now, that right there's a lot to look forward to already, so make sure you stay tuned for more.
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