Inviting today's stars to remix, mash up, sample or otherwise have their way with the original recordings of Sly & the Family Stone was an audacious idea, but it makes a grand payoff on "Different

Inviting today's stars to remix, mash up, sample or otherwise have their way with the original recordings of Sly & the Family Stone was an audacious idea, but it makes a grand payoff on "Different Strokes by Different Folks," due this week via Columbia/Legacy.

Almost all of the artists "get" what the long-reclusive Sly's peak music from 1969 to 1973 was about. Ignoring categories, his multiracial band achieved a universal appeal unimaginable today. will.i.am sets the tone with a nostalgic free-flow rap over "Dance to the Music"; John Legend and Joss Stone with Van Hunt find salvation in the heartbreak of "Family Affair"; Chuck D (with D'Angelo and Isaac Hayes) unlocks the revolutionary resonances in "Sing a Simple Song"; and Big Boi gets deep inside an elegantly textured "Runnin' Away." Elsewhere, Buddy Guy and John Mayer and Steven Tyler and Robert Randolph dabble in Sly's blues/rock side.

Stone, now 61, has not released an album since 1982's "Ain't But the One Way" and was last heard from on the 1986 soundtrack to the film "Soul Man." Over the years, he has battled drug addiction and been the subject of bizarre rumors about his personal life, but is understood to now be in better health and living in Beverly Hills, Calif.

The artist will be the subject of a musical tribute at this week's Grammy Awards, and there is buzz he may make an appearance at the event.