As inventor of the “slap-and-pluck” technique, bassist Larry Graham, through his work with Sly & the Family Stone and his own Graham Central Station, demonstrated an entirely new approach to the electric bass and helped define the sound of ’70s funk. Though Graham’s name may not be that well-known outside certain funk and bass-playing circles, his style has long transcended the confines of the funk idiom, influencing jazz, post-punk, alt rock, and Prince.
Raise Up, Graham’s first album in 13 years, is full of delectable funk goodies perfectly capable of whetting the appetite of both the newly initiated and the old-school believers. Coupling 10 new songs, a Stevie Wonder cover (“Higher Ground”), and updated versions of GCS classics “It’s Alright”, “Now Do U Wanna Dance”, and Al Green’s “It Ain’t No Fun to Me” (originally covered on GCS’s debut) and featuring guest appearances by Prince and Raphael Saadiq, Raise Up builds a bridge from the bassist’s past to today’s audience. Having been playing much of the material found on Raise Up over the last couple years, Graham was able to see what worked with audiences, and he describes the record as a “reflection of what the people want when we play our live show.”
With a fluidity similar to a live performance, Raise Up is a concept album only in the very loosest sense. Wanting to tell a complete story, Graham merges calls to action with uplifting songs of hope and love that help to encourage the discouraged and down-and-out to rise above the challenges of their daily lives. As Graham puts it, “Everybody’s dealing with something. I want this music to help raise people up and enable them to overcome adversity.”
Essential Tracks: “It’s Alright”, “It Ain’t No Fun to Me