The one Minnesotan member of the Rock and Roll Hall Fame who still lives here most of the year, legendary Sly & the Family Stone bassist Larry Graham will release his first Graham Central Station album in more than a decade on Sept. 25 – a record featuring both Prince and Rafael Saadiq among the collaborators.
Graham, 65, recorded the bulk of the songs last summer at Studio de l'Hacienda in Tarare, France, with an updated GCS lineup. Some of it also might have been raised up at Paisley Park in Chanhassen, though that has not been confirmed. The album is titled “Raise Up” and will come out via Razor & Tie Records on the Listen 2 Entertainment imprint, which also counts Hugh Masekela, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Joe McBride on its roster. You can already sample the new tracks on the label’s site.
Among the highlights is the slow-burner “Shoulda Coulda Woulda,” which features Prince on lead guitar, keyboards, drums and backing vocals. If they'd had a glockenspiel in the studio, the dude probably would have nailed that puppy, too. Graham’s longtime pal and neighbor in the southwestern Twin Cities burbs also reportedly played drums on the title track and guitar in the crowd-rouser “Movin’.” Meanwhile, Saadiq sings alongside Graham’s wife, Tina Graham, in the hopeful closing track, “One Day,” and GCS singer Ashling Cole delivers the powerhouse vocals in the so-obvious-and-so-good cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground.” The latter track also shows off Graham’s slap-bass technique, for which he is credited turning into a cornerstone of rock and funk music.
Here’s hoping we get to see Graham slap away sometime this fall at an album-release party in his adopted hometown. In the meantime, here's a classic clip from Graham Central Station's early years.