I've seen compilations of Sly Stone's pre-Family Stone recordings for years, usually budget looking compilations which didn't look very enticing. The best one came back in 1994, when the UK label Ace released the 28 track Precious Stone: In the Studio with Sly Stone 1963-1965 compilation.
More recently, Vampisoul (who also reissued the Maranata disc and Sexteto Electronico Moderno's Sounds From the Elegant World) tried their hand at collecting together some of this prime early Sly Stone work on the Seventh Son compilation in 2002, and they've done a great job with the presentation in a nice paper cover for the cd artwork and an incredible selection of material. Top it off with liner notes from Gories/Dirtbombs mainman Mick Collins and you definitely have a collection for Sly Stone fans.
Whoever sequenced this compilation did a great job. All the hard hitting tracks are early on, and the doo wop and novelty comes at the end. So the high point for me are the first 10 tracks:
- Searchin' (Leiber/Stoller cover done with a wild crowd for background vocals),
- Don't Say I Didn't Warn You (hard hitting girl group sounds),
- Ain't That Lovin' You Baby (soultastic Jimmy Reed cover)
- (I Just Learned How To) Swim (driving rhythm and melody and sweet "Yeh, yeh, yeh" chorus)
- Every Dog Has His Day (funky bass intro leads to a soul blast of a tune),
- Seventh Son (a blues stomping tune and the namesake for this compilation)
- I Can't Turn You Loose (hints of what was the come later in the live Sly shows with this Otis Redding cover)
- Take My Advice (has that soul duo sound to it and those Sly style horns)
- Life Of Fortune And Fame (sweet ballad sound with stellar Sly lead vocal...is this what did Sly in, in the end?).
Later on in the disc are two more gems: Honest - a female lead vocal on this deep soul treasure that lopes along but never explodes - and Uncle Sam Needs You My Friend - a Vietnam era novelty tune (although they mention Berlin in the lyrics), which is a tongue in cheek response to a letter sent from Uncle Sam asking for Sly to fight in the war. Definitely love when they sing "hep, two, three, four."
The rest of the disc is doo wop styled early 60s pop, and thus mostly not as interesting. In The Still Of The Night has a Walker Brothers sound to it to end the set and that's about all.