If This Room Could Talk
Sly & The Family Stone
A Whole New Thing, 1967
Apparently Sly & The Family Stone appeared on the scene with their sound fully formed, or at least that is how it would appear after listening to the gargantuan opening track to their little-known 1967 debut. After listening backwards (chronologically) through their catalogue and seeing their material get (to make a conscious generalization) somewhat lighter, I expected to arrive at the debut and find something with less…teeth (and something a little less quirky).
Not so; after an 8-bar, minor-key rendition of Frere Jacques “Underdog” launches into a verse which consists of a repeating pattern of (three bars) of vocals over choppy syncopated horns which come to a sudden stop for an acapella and very hip-hop sounding (4th bar) “yea-yeaaah!” It’s a thing of beauty. It gives the track a herky-jerky feeling that may not be perfect for the dance floor but I am still surprised that I have never heard anyone give it a try (maybe I don’t get out enough).
“If This Room Could Talk” is a more traditional song overall but is still uniquely S. & T.F.S., including seemingly out-of-place off-beat horn hits every bar, some nice, if unruly, falsetto from Sly and a fairly out-there song concept. It seems to be about cheating as Sly “made a mistake in this room” but “wishes [he] was dreaming” so “he could wake up and love [you].” The chorus follows with “If this room could talk, you would know that I love you.” But as we get into the second verse things get a little more abstract with “I know you don’t expect me to call you, if this room won’t give me a hand.” It’s all we’ve learned to love (and not question) about Sly.
Also found on A Whole New Thing is the Questlove-DJ-set-favorite and “Mama Said Knock You Out” sample-source “Trip To Your Heart.”
Surprisingly, this album has been available on CD for 11 years. I would recommend checking it out if you are a Sly fan and have not heard it.
>> songs are available for two weeks [5.6 MB]
>> songs are available for two weeks [4.6 MB]