Abaco Dream – Sly and the Family Stone’s electronic secret
My gal got me an iPod for Christmas, and sometimes when I try to play my songs randomly, it starts playing bands in alphabetical order instead.
That means Abaco Dream is the first band to play. And this band is so fucking awesome, I just have to sit and listen each time until it’s done.
They’re a band from 1970, that only came out with two tracks on one single 45, both of which I got on a compilation CD a couple months back at Aquarius Records in San Francisco. Side A is a really funky tune called “Life and Death in G&A” that proclaims “If it feels good, it’s alright!” There are horns and groovy baselines and soulful vocals. It’s a funk-soul slice of awesome that won’t quit!
Side B, on the other hand, is a purely electronic ditty called “Cat Woman,” done with what sounds like a drum machine and live drums, an oscillator, and a couple synths, maybe hooked up to a wah pedal. Plus, there’s a British dude occasionally scolding a kitty cat for being in his garden “eating ‘erring bones!” It’s like a mixture of Bruce Haack, Kraftwerk, Silver Apples, early Devo, and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band–in short, like a totally different band from Side A. In fact, I’d thought the makers of my comp CD had goofed and attributed two different artists’ work to the same band.
So I’ve been wondering about the history of the band. And a little research online today reveals that Abaco Dream did in fact do both songs, and is none other than Sly Stone’s pet project! I guess in 1970 he wanted to branch out and do some tunes without record company pressure and away from the critics’ eye. Side A’s soul-funk is actually better than a lot of his normal stuff, a platter that could move any party. But Side B–wow, this is something out on a limb from anything that I’ve ever heard Sly do (and I’m familiar with his very different, early work helping craft sounds for bands on the Autumn label, with bands such as the Vejtables).
Maybe Sly wanted to become an originator of a new sound–or maybe he just wanted to get high and play with some toys! This interview with Dick Cavett seems to hint at the latter:
I dunno. The more I look up info for this band online, the more I realize that nobody truly has the definitive answer on whether this is really Sly on Side B or some other band altogether. It definitely sounds different, but I wouldn’t put it past a man with this much coke up his nose and that much talent to come up with a unique electronic sound. And despite what the psyche newsgroups suggest, this is definitely not a Simeon sound. Maybe one of my readers can enlighten us?