Stand! is the pinnacle of Sly & the Family Stone's early work, a record that represents a culmination of the group's musical vision and accomplishment. Stand! integrates astounding funk, irresistible melodies, psychedelic guitars and deep rhythums. Add to this a sharpened sense of pop songcraft and Sly's social conscious and the result is utterly stunning. This expanded edition features 5 bonus tracks.
In 1967, Sly Stone was unabashed: his debut, A Whole New Thing
, claimed high ground--it was new
, big time. He knew it. By 1969, the newness was transformed, Sly was imploring listeners to Stand!
and breaking new ground. The snarl of "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey" with its droning organ and wah-wah guitar had claws, it was unmistakable. And the full-on blast of harmonica, fuzz guitars, and horns that opens "I Want to Take You Higher" just cemented the claim: Music would unite and fight and kick and get you high
. "Everyday People" almost seems an anomaly in this company, a breezy harmony vocal backing, simple piano framing, long horn lines, and a churchy chorus. It's the biggest hit from Stand!
, a true pop gem. What you get with the rest of the album (and Sly's early catalog overall) is sui generis
. "Sing a Simple Song" has scouring, wordless shouts, a heavy beat backed by multiple voices half-atop each other, horn riffs jetting across guitar riffs, and an abrupt, scrambling end. It's a tight and tough embrace, an open door. It's 1969. --Andrew Bartlett