July 21, 2007 – I was in London’s Victoria Park, where, improbably, Sly Stone was playing his first UK show for 20 years at the Lovebox festival. The timing of Sly’s latest comeback was especially poignant. Prince – heir to Stone’s psychedelic explosion of soul, funk and rock – was about to play a month-long residency a few miles east of Victoria Park at the O2 Arena.
Sly, for his part, managed to play four songs for us. As it transpired, Stone was unexpectedly great. His voice was low but fragile, full of emotional resonance on “If You Want Me To Stay” and a galvanising “Sing A Simple Song”, gaining further momentum when he came back after – apparently – a toilet break for a rapturous “I Wanna Take You Higher” and “Stand!”. While these flashes of genius may not quite have matched the potency of Sly in full flight, they were evidence that however much Stone’s career had derailed in the 1970s, some part of him was still profoundly connected to his music.
This month, as Sly’s long-awaited autobiography finally hits the shelves, we’re granted a rare audience with the legendary recluse – we also bring you an exclusive extract from the book and hear a compelling eyewitness account from his imperial phase via one of his former bandmates.
It’s Sly’s first time on an Uncut cover – part of our ongoing commitment to develop new cover artists alongside more familiar faces. You’ll find plenty of those, of course, elsewhere in the issue – the Rolling Stones, Dylan, Jason Isbell, Nirvana – plus punk’s lost heroes The Adverts, and Lankum, whose False Lankum has been a regular fixture on the Uncut stereo since early spring. Lankum have also curated this month’s free CD for us – a stunning primer to the new wave of Irish musicians taking folk, drone, psychedelia, art pop and more in bold, new directions.
A new cover artist and a bunch of great discoveries await on our CD. Welcome, then, to the new Uncut…