Larry Graham, Jr. (born August 14, 1946) is an American bass guitar player, both with the psychedelic soul/funk band Sly and the Family Stone, and as the founder and frontman of Graham Central Station.
Artist: Larry Graham
Title: Sooner Or Later
Label: Warner Bros. Records
Catalog# WB 56992
Larry Graham, Jr. (born August 14, 1946) is an American bass guitar player, both with the psychedelic soul/funk band Sly and the Family Stone, and as the founder and frontman of Graham Central Station. He is credited with the invention of the slapping technique, which radically expanded the tonal palette of the bass, although he himself refers to the technique as “thumpin’ and pluckin'”.
Maybe because it was his pioneering days with the Family Stone or what he did with GCS that Larry Graham’s solo career during the 80’s ended up being somewhat neglected.
I have to thank Collectables for reissuing his 1980-1985 catalog-four albums that were previously only floating around in the form of expensive import CD’s. This was his third realese from 1982. The type of organ and rhythm section based music Sly had pioneered in the 60’s and early 70’s had long given way to a more electronic sound.
And now that computers and digital soul/funk/R&B age had officially arrived Larry was in an excellent possition to take part. After all he had been highly creative and artistic with synthesizers and electronic rhythms on many of his GCS recordings. Considering the fact his first couple of solos had concentrated heavily on slickly produced soul ballads with some other grooves mixed into them it was more than a pleasant surprise for “jam fans” this Larry chose to mix it up on this release,focusing heavier on a mixture of deeper ballads and a modern variation of the hard funk he had been known for.
Whether it be on his own electric axe,a synthesizer or Larry’s singing itself the overall production is all about bass in some way. The title track is the best uptempo funk song in his solo career up to this point.
There are four slow songs here but all are actually excellent.”Still Thinkin’ Of You”,co-written with George Duke who provides some of the music as well is in fact not disimilar to his breakout solo hit One In A Million You.”You’re My Girl”,”Let Me Come Into Your Life” and “Easy Love” all sound kind of similar but aren’t bad nonetheless.
Now anyone who gives this album a serious run through will quickly figure out it’s strenghs lie in the jams. “Don’t Stop When Your Hot” finds Larry breaking out his slap bass for this glorious funk jam that makes complete sense in Graham’s musical progression thus far. “I Feel Good” is sloooow and stomping and HEAVY;despite the heavy electro-funk dressing the rhythms are definately rooted in a 70’s style groove that GCS and Sly explored now and again,even if their forte had been for the faster sort of funk.
George Duke throws in his hand at an uptempo tune here too on “Walk Baby Walk”,a faster number two with a lot of musically complex solos darting in and out of the horn arrangements and such. Again a fresh extension on the old GCS sound in many ways. “Hold Up Your Hand” brings to mind one very interesting point just out of my own head.
Personally I imagine if Stevie Wonder had kept the the syncopated funk grooves with that bluesy flavored harmonica and pointed horn breaks that he had circa Talking Book in the early 80’s with it’s own production values it would’ve sounded a lot like this song.
True the very unspoken influence Wonder had on Larry during both their salad days was present on GCS’s music of the day,it’s still very much in attendance here. The closer is a (largely) instrumental version of the title song with more vocorder than the original verison. For someone who is highly skeptical,as I was that Larry Graham was spending most of the 80’s trying to pass himself off as California’s version of Lionel Ritchie and turning his back to making high quality funk this would be the perfect place to begin to change your mind on that front.
1. Sooner Or Later (3:28)
2. Still Thinkin’ Of You (3:09)
3. Don’t Stop When You’re Hot (4:34)
4. You’re My Girl (3:22)
5. I Feel Good (3:39)
1. Walk Baby Walk (4:26)
2. Let Me Come Into Your Life (3:23)
3. Hold Up Your Hand (4:09)
4. Easy Love (3:24)
5. Sooner Or Later (Instrumental) (4:59)