Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Phish Covers Project: Stand!

On June 13, 1997 Phish kicked off their summer European tour with a 2-night run at the SFX Centre in Dublin, Ireland. This show is most well known as the night they debuted seven new original songs, but they also debuted two new covers during the encore. These were Sly and The Family Stone's 'Stand!' and Jimi Hendrix's 'Izabella'. The band would never play 'Stand!' again, but 'Izabella' appeared in setlists a total of ten times, lastly in 1998. Phish played 17 shows on that Summer '97 tour of Europe, including appearances at the Glastonbury festival in England and the Roskilde festival in Denmark. They returned to the US and commenced a stateside tour in July that saw them step out as a very different band from what fans their were used to. This was the beginning of Phish's darker funk era that would ultimately show up on record with 1998's Story of the Ghost album.

'Stand!' appears on Sly and the Family Stone's fourth album and shares a name with the album it was released on. The Stand! album, #118 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, was released on May 3, 1969 and peaked at #22 on the charts. Also on this album are well known tracks 'I Want To Take You Higher' and 'You Can Make It If You Try'. Three months later, the band went on to perform at the legendary Woodstock festival, with their performance being one of the highlights of the festival's movie.

In the months and years after the Woodstock festival, Sly Stone began his descent into heavy drug use, abusing cocaine and PCP. The band and Sly would never be the same again. Sly and The Family Stone continued to release music and tour throughout the early 70s, but most nights, Sly, if he even showed up at all, would give lackluster performances. The band officially broke up in 1975. From the 80s through to the mid-2000s, Sly Stone remained in seclusion and mostly out of the public eye.

On February 8, 2006 a Sly and the Family Stone tribute took place at the Grammy Awards. Even though Sly did take the stage with the Family Stone for the first time since 1971, he only stayed on stage for a few minutes and turned in a bizarre performance that was generally inaudible over the backing band.

Having been severely let down by the Grammy performance and reading generally negative reviews of Sly's sporadic appearances on stage since then, I was entirely surprised to find this gem of a video on YouTube featuring Sly Stone singing the aforementioned 'Stand!', taped at the Tokyo Jazz Festival on 8/31/08. Featured here is the Sly I was so hoping to see at the Grammy Awards. His voice is still in tact and he really appears to be enjoying himself at the piano. I'm so happy to have found this video and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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