Saturday, December 06, 2008

okay, this is more like it...

i understand why this music -- and sly stone in particular -- is so mindblowing, especially now. so many teens and twenty-somethings have absolutely no idea who he is. my cousin still thinks he's that freak that outfreaked everyone at the grammys. when i played this song for her and told her that it's where janet jackson got her song rhythm nation, she actually got interested.

playing an instrument in the wonderful world of r&b isn't as commonplace as it used to be. and neither is songwriting. or singing. or performing without being surrounded by what visually amounts to a mini las vegas floor show. if an r&b act has a band, it's a gimmick, a novelty item. it isn't par for the course. can you really do r&b nowadays if you don't have a stylist?

what are we expecting when we go to see a show? the majesty of rock? the mystery of roll? what is r&b, anyway? is it "urban"? is it hip-hop incognegro? is it black pop music? so many producer-driven hybrids, so little time.

one thing is for sure. unless more of us start taking the time to learn how to play and develop our own ideas, r&b by whatever name you call it will continue to eat itself -- head first.

there is much to be learned from the past, and knowing your rock and roll history as a musician is always a good idea. that's why videos like these matter so much. i love this one -- the feel of it, the way it shows the stage turning and opening up to the audience, what their gear looks like, how enthusiastic everyone is. the band is so in sync with each other, and the music sounds as good as the best of anything that's out right now.

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