Monday, May 21, 2007

Sly & the Family Stone - Fresh (Version B)

Back in 1991 somebody at Sony made a boo-boo and pulled the wrong tapes from the archives for the first CD issue of Sly & the Family Stone's Fresh. As a result, the entire CD (except the first track) consisted of alternate takes. Sony quickly realized its mistake, recalled the CD, and reissued it with the correct takes. An acquaintance that worked at Tower Records in Annapolis told me what had happened, and I picked up a copy before the store returned its recalled stock.

No one seems to know exactly what the deal is with these alternate takes. Did they constitute an alternate version of the album approved by Sly, but rejected by Epic? Were they demo takes? Were they different takes altogether, or merely alternate mixes? How did the mistake happen in the first place? What happened has been the subject of much speculation and debate, little of it informed by any actual facts. Those who know aren't saying (and probably couldn't remember anyway).

One thing is for certain; the takes issued on the 1991 CD are radically different from the versions that were originally issued on LP. The "official" version of Fresh has a much more compressed "AM radio" sound than the alternate takes, while "Version B" (as it came to be known) has wider stereo separation and a spacier feeling closer in sound to There's A Riot Goin' On. One could probably write a book on the differences between the two versions, but suffice to say, they're quite different.

Many people prefer "Version B" to the official album, and I would count myself among them, although both versions have their charms. When Sony/BMG reissued Fresh this year, five of the alternate takes from "Version B" were included as bonus tracks, marking the first time these takes were issued legitimately.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

thanks...oh i would love the whole album-its so difficult to find sly stuff now, even at HMV

C (thefifthmicrophone) said...

thanks!! I'm a big fan of sly, could you please post the whole album! or email it to me? True, it is really difficult to find his stuff, the only cd i'm missing is: heard you missed me, well i'm back. I managed to find some really cool rare comps with unheard tracks, tho

Scott said...

c'mon, fellow. this is an important release. it would be awesome of you to supply a link to the alternate album here in the comments section. this stuff is so hard to find. it would be a public service.

Scott said...

c'mon, fellow. this is an important release. it would be awesome of you to supply a link to the alternate album here in the comments section. this stuff is so hard to find. it would be a public service.

Time needs another minute said...

hmm...including the five alt take/mix tracks on the remastered 2007 album and these two that have been generously provided to us,the world is four tracks short of hearing Sly's genoius lost masterpieces. I am not one for begging, but please please hook us up with the links, I think all of us would buy it if only it was available. Theres no reason we cant all buy the remasters to hear the other takes/mix. I did, one of the best purchases of my life...Theres a riot goin on remaster has some cool instrumentals.

Pete Bilderback said...

I missed all these comments begging me to post the rest of the tracks. As a rule, I don't post entire albums. But in this case, I will (sort of) make an exception by posting the rest of the tracks not found on the recent Sony reissue. I'll do it in a post next week.

Scott said...

sweet, thanks! that's a great idea. we'll be looking out.

©                                                                                                                 said...

nice! thanks for looking out!

Pete Bilderback said...

Since I ended up making this week a Jonathan Richman themed week, looks like it will be next week...hang in there I will get to it though.