THE APPEARANCE in London of the much-heralded exponents and instigators of psychedelic soul — only their second ever British date; the first being at the Isle of Wight in August, under ridiculous conditions at 7 am on a Sunday morning in freezing cold weather! — was little publicised and, in consequence, it seemed that only a handful would turn up to show their enthusiasm for the group's music. If you consider 2,500 a handful, then your expectations would have been fulfilled!
In fact, the group drew a capacity crowd at London's Lyceum and proved why they have had several million sellers in the States and why they ought to be at least as popular here. It can only be the strange reluctance of the dear old BBC to play "Thank You", "Hot Fun In The Summertime" and "Everyday People" that has prevented them from being the chart toppers they deserve to have been.
The tension mounted in the audience as they patiently awaited the long-overdue appearance of the group but all was forgotten when the Family finally made it on stage. Without a single word of introduction, the group — Sly, brother Freddie and sister Yvette (replacing Rose, who apparently missed the plane), Greg Errico, Larry Graham and Cynthia Robinson — trouped on stage and went straight into the familiar "M'Lady", followed by the enthralling "Thank You".
By this time, the crowd was close on being uncontrollable and everybody was on his or her feet. Then, into "Stand", "Dance To The Music", "Everyday People", which came over even better than on record; and "You Can Make It If You Try", which was, for me, the highlight. They completed what seemed an all too short set with "I Want To Take You Higher" with Sly badgering everybody to give the peace sign and shout 'Higher' with him, as he did so successfully at both Woodstock and the Isle Of Wight.
And, it wasn't just the sound — the group were visually stunning, clad in all colours of the rainbow. Perhaps the only fault was the P.A. system, which made it close on impossible to hear what the group were singing unless you were standing directly in front of them, which then made it difficult for others to hear! But it obviously didn't matter because everyone had a ball and were demanding more long after the Family had left the stage, obviously exhausted from their devastating performance. All that's left is to say: Sly & the Family Stone — RIGHT ON!
About the Writer
David Nathan is the founder and CEO of SoulMusic.com and began his writing career in 1965; beginning in 1967, he was a regular contributor to Blues & Soul magazine in London before relocating to the U.S. in 1975 where he served as U.S. editor for the publication for several decades and began being known as 'The British Ambassador Of Soul.' From 1988 to 2004, he wrote prolifically for Billboard, has penned bios, produced and written liner notes for box sets and reissue CDs for over a thousand projects. He returned to London in 2009 where he has helped create SoulMusic.com Records as a leading reissue label.