We check out the updated albums by Warren Zevon, Leonard Cohen, and Sly & the Family Stone
The latest in reissues
SLY & THE FAMILY STONE
A Whole New Thing; Dance to the Music; Life; Stand!; There’s a Riot Goin’ On; Fresh; Small Talk (Epic/Legacy)
To mark the 40th anniversary of Sly Stone’s debut, Epic is reissuing the soul/funk genius’ first seven albums, which track his journey from ecstatic flower child to brooding funk fiend. This revolutionary synthesis of rhythm, politics, and pop still hasn’t been bested.
Extras Alternate mixes, instrumentals, and unreleased cuts. New Thing: B+ Dance: A- Life: A- Stand!: A Riot: A Fresh: A Small Talk: B+ — Michael Endelman
Excitable Boy; Stand in the Fire; The Envoy (Rhino)
Excitable is indispensable for any ’70s singer-songwriter library; Zevon could nearly out-sensitize co-producer Jackson Browne, while also writing wackjob paeans to psychos and mercenaries. He ratcheted up the ”Werewolves of London” howls on Fire, an indelibly raucous live album. Envoy found strain developing in diplomatic relations with his muse.
Extras Fire‘s brevity is finally rectified with a fantastic four-song encore on this first-ever CD issue. Boy, Fire: A Envoy: B — Chris Willman
Songs of Leonard Cohen; Songs From a Room; Songs of Love and Hate (Columbia/Legacy)
Cohen was 33 when his unapologetically flat voice first telegraphed the sentiments I am weary, I want to make love to you, and I roll my own cigarettes — all in perfect meter. On subsequent albums, the whispers of l’amour fou give way to tales of axes, avalanches, and stake burnings. But the poetry, and minor chords, still break your heart.
Extras Outtakes hint at a Dylanesque road not taken. All: A — Sean Howe