Sly and the Family Stone – Underdog


Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

Sly and the Family Stone wouldn’t really hit it big until the 1969 release of their 4th album, Stand!, which hinted at a darkness that would come into clearer focus in the early 70’s. I love all of those records, but the quintessential Sly song for me is the debut single (by way of a double A side), “Underdog”. It is taken from the debut album, A Whole New Thing and is possibly the most infectious piece of music I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. Horns that echo a children’s song before gritty vocals by Sly enter the mix. The horns seem to answer his shout outs as the whole thing seems to be heading towards uncharted territory. Once that chorus hits – MY GOD – it is not just one of the most glorious sounds of the 60’s – it is one of the most rewarding choruses ever laid down. The horns that answer the chorus provide an emotional complexity that is unnerving (and inspiring). The horns in this song seemed to be the inspiration for The Go Team‘s “Junior Kickstart” which was a popular indie / dance single in the US and UK in 2003showing just how wide-ranging the influence of Sly and the Family Stone is. Summon your inner underdog and sing along with Sly as he sings these lyrics:

I know how it feels to have to go along
With people you don’t even know
Simply because there happens to be
A whole lot more of them, yeah
(Yeah, yeah)

Say, I’m the underdog
I’m the underdog
I don’t mind, ’cause I can handle it
Underdog, it’s gonna be alright
I’m the underdog

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