Sunday, October 07, 2007

10 Thoughts On Viewing Sly Stone on the Kraft Music Hour

Join me as I work through an intense ongoing obsession over Sly & the Family Stone, fuelled as much by the recent reissues of their entire back catalog as it is by this video, showing the band performing on the Kraft Music Hall (titled here as Kraft Music Hour) circa 1967 (you can download an audio version of this televised performance here). After watching this video repeatedly about 15 times in one sitting, I have cemented the following observations:

1. Seriously, people--can you imagine how delirious it must have been to be a part of this small audience, being able to witness one of America's best soul/rock acts at the absolute peak of their immense musical powers, watching them pound out hit after glorious hit, one after the other, right before your eyes? Also, you're very stoned so clapping on the wrong beat doesn't mean you're not one with the universe.

2. How deliciously wicked it must have been to hear the racey "Don't Call Me Nigga, Whitey" performed during the usually squeaky-clean Kraft Music Hour. Company founder James L. Kraft must have been spinning in his grave (unless he was hip to this groove, in which case he was the coolest White guy ever born in 1874).

3. At the time, it must have been every musician's dream to play in this band. True, Sly Stone later became a cocaine-addled zombie, often failing to show up for stadium gigs and threatening his fellow band members with guns, but hey--think of the easy access you'd have had to Sly's drug stash.

4. I would give anything to be able to dance like the audience member grooving next to the drummer at the 3:10 mark except, you know, not in public and with no television cameras to preserve it for future generations.

5. When I see that woman's feet doing the little "chicken shuffle" step at the 6:25 mark, I always think, "I've got to incorporate that move into my life somehow. Perhaps I'll employ this dance while at the copy machine at work...see if it advances my career somewhat..."

6. It's difficult to understand why it took the FBI so many years to arrest radical activist Angela Davis. She's sitting right there at the 3:57 mark, Nixon Administration! Get on it!

7. That little here-we-go-round-the-PCP-bush jig which Sly Stone performs at the 7:50 mark is almost as amusing as the gold lamé blouse tied around his torso. The operative word here is: almost.

8. Regarding the platinum blonde hair atop the head of keyboard player and back-up singer Rose Stone--do you think the throw rug matched the slip cover?

9. It always makes me sad when Rob Reiner looks at the camera right at the 7:28 mark, because you just know Archie Bunker is watching this on TV and when he sees Meathead on his television set, there is going to be hell to pay when he gets home.

10. I'm going to stop with the observations. I just cued up viewing number 16.

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