Sly & The Family Stone - Anthology
- Epic, 1981
January 27. 1999
Les Claypool. Flea. Bootsy Collins. Eric Avery. Dave Allen. Pick your bassist - none would exist without Larry Graham. The slapping, thumb popping bass sound that is the diamond-hard cornerstone of funk and is de rigueur for practically every modern bass player was invented by Graham, and Sly Stone is the rhythm-meister who coaxed it out of him.
Sly and the Family Stone was the first sexually and racially integrated band of the 60's, and that openness extended into his music. Bubbling over with positivity ("Everyday People"), social critique ("Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey") and a huge party vibe ("I Want To Take You Higher"), Sly set both the political and musical agenda for the decade. He walked the walk like no one else until James Brown picked up the baton in the 70's.
While all his early albums are riveting, this anthology is a perfect starting point for the uninitiated. If all you know is that goddamn Toyota commercial, you are in for a treat - you can hear the genre boundaries crashing down as Sly's band brilliantly fuses psychedelia, gut bucket funk, shining pop and soul. The early tracks are pure summertime groove ("Fun", "Dance to the Music"), while the later tracks show Sly getting darker, funkier and more political, but every song is branded with the mark of brilliance. This music is astounding in its lyrical breadth and rhythmic scope.
All seven minutes of "Thank You For Talkin' To Me Africa" ranks among the heaviest drop-dead funk ever waxed, the piercing horns and deadly guitar of "You Can Make It If You Try" will lift you to the heavens, and Sly's simmering organ runs make the heartbreaking tales in "Family Affair" absolutely captivating. Sly's heartfelt singing is meant to educate your mind, uplift your soul and shake your ass all at once, and what's nobler than that?
- Jared O'Connor
huge party vibe