Sly & the Family Stone - The Essential Sly & the Family Stone

Sly & the Family Stone
The Essential Sly & the Family Stone


First Appeared at The Music Box, August 2003, Volume 10, #8

Written by John Metzger


There have been quite a few compilations focusing on the career of Sly & the Family Stone, but none are anywhere near as comprehensive as the recently released two-disc volume of Legacy Recordingsí Essential series. The set takes a chronological path through the groupís repertoire, starting with two songs from its 1967 debut A Whole New Thing and concluding with one track from Stoneís 1975 solo disc High on You. Itís not the beginning or the end, however, thatís worth hearing ó itís all the music stuffed in between that makes this collection so good. Indeed, 35 songs might seem like a lot, but all of it is truly essential as the band winds its way through í60s pop-influenced R&B to psychedelic soul to socially-aware funk, all in the span of a few years. Naturally, the hits are all here ó the exuberant Dance to the Music, the groovy I Want to Take You Higher, the bubbly Everyday People, the gospel-tinged Stand!, the soaring Everybody Is a Star, and the jovial Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) ó but, unlike previous retrospectives, The Essential Sly & the Family Stone doesnít just stop there. Instead, it digs even deeper to unearth numerous other treasures, such as the blues-oriented freak-out Donít Call Me Nigger, Whitey, which breaks-up the celebration of disc one to point in the direction that Stone would take on his í70s albums. In fact, eight of the eleven tracks from his 1971 masterpiece Thereís a Riot Goiní On are included (as are seven tracks from its predecessor Stand! and six tracks from its follow-up Fresh). This isnít overkill, either, as just about every song on this set is an absolute gem that ranks as some of the finest soul music ever written, and the few that qualify as lesser tracks are still vital in completing the vibrant picture of a brilliant artist. starstarstarstarstar

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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2003 The Music Box