Heard Ya Missed Me, Well I'm Back

by: Sly & the Family Stone

Heard Ya Missed Me, Well I'm Back, Sly Stone's ninth album for Epic, features a reunited Sly & the Family Stone. Sly's previous album, the funk-filled High on You (1975), had been a solo effort. The sentiment here sure seems inviting -- Sly optimistically reuniting with his group in an aim to recapture the magic of his late-'60s prime -- yet the result is sadly disappointing. Rather than revisit the funk of High on You or the psychedelic pop/rock of late-'60s Sly & the Family Stone, Heard Ya Missed Me, Well I'm Back seems modeled after the Philly soul sound of the time. This in itself is fine -- this was 1976, after all, and the Family Stone seemed well-suited for the horn- and chorus-filled style of Philly soul, which was then in vogue -- and it certainly makes for a curious entry in the group's catalog. However, neither the songs nor the music here is especially engaging beyond the level of curiosity. The marketplace didn't respond well to Heard Ya Missed Me, Well I'm Back, and it's fairly easy to hear why -- nothing here sticks, even if the music is pleasant enough and even if Sly is in an optimistic mood. Sly & the Family Stone may be back here, as the title proclaims, but this isn't the same band spiritually or musically. One suspects Epic may have pushed Sly in the Philly soul direction, given the label's treatment of the Jackson 5 on Goin' Places (1977). After all, the label didn't care enough about Sly to keep him around for long; following the commercial failure of Heard Ya Missed Me, Well I'm Back, he was dropped from his contract after only two albums. ~ Jason Birchmeier

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