Tributee: Sly & the Family Stone.
The Clinton Administration: Kai Eckhardt, Michael Lee Firkins, Robert Walter, Stanton Moore, Fareed Haque, Charlie Hitchcock, Chuck Prada, Cochemea, Gastelum, Eric Levy.
Personnel: Michael Lee Firkins (slide guitar); Cochemea Gastelum (flute, bass clarinet, alto saxophone); Eric Levy (piano, Clavinet, Wurlitzer organ, Kurzwell synthesizer, Moog synthesizer); Robert Walter (Fender Rhodes piano); Kai Eckhardt (5-string bass); Stanton Moore (drums); Chuck Prada (percussion).
Audio Mixer: Robert Berry.
Recording information: Soundtek Studios, Campbell, CA.
Illustrator: Dave McKean.
Photographer: Paul J. Jr. Barrie.
Robert Walter revisits his Clinton Administration project, but with wholesale changes this time out. First off, the only players remaining from the first album are Walter and percussionist Chuck Prada, who team up with fusion jam band Garaj Mahal, drummer Stanton Moore (Galactic), and additional guitarists Michael Lee Firkins and Charlie Hitchcock. Secondly, rather than doing more George Clinton tunes, they shift the focus to the songs of Sly Stone. There is no doubt that Sly & the Family Stone delivered some fantastic tunes, but they were never the nonstop party band that the P-Funk All-Stars are, and it's that difference that sets Take You Higher apart from One Nation Under a Re-Groove. "Everybody Is a Star" and "You Can Make It if You Try" may be uplifting songs, but it's due more to the lyrical sentiments than the music itself, and divorced from the lyrics, the songs just don't stand up the same way. Another thing is that as these songs get stretched out so the bandmembers can strut their stuff a bit, they tend to lose the focus of the tune, and sort of devolve into jamming. Case in point: "Everyday People" sounds more like they were trying to play "Shhh/Peaceful" from In a Silent Way, with the melody for "Everyday People" dropped in sporadically. It's all well played, to be sure, and there is some great soloing, but this album would probably appeal more to folks who are already Garaj Mahal fans rather than those who picked up the last Clinton Administration set. ~ Sean Westergaard