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Sly and the Family Stone: The Collection

Limited Edition

Box Set, Remastered

4.4 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, Limited Edition, April 10, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description



First, a sigh of exasperated relief--exasperation because it's taken a needlessly long time to get Sly and the Family Stone's catalog remastered and properly reissued. From the band's 1967 debut, A Whole New Thing through their 1974 swan song, Small Talk, the shifting band indulged everything from the long horn lines, fast rhythms, and quickly unmistakable urgent delivery of "Turn Me Loose," with its rapid, jerking funk rhythms and quick, sharp horn blasts, to the chilled groove, string backing, and slinky guitar on "Say You Will."

In between there's an embarrassment of riches: The 1968 one-two punch of Dance to the Music's title track and "Higher" introduces a gleaming exuberance; everyone wants to get higher and dance, but slowly the tune titles and funky whimsy of tunes like "Chicken," "Love City," "Fun," and the sheer musical cheer of "Harmony," show that Sly's bridge from hard-hitting funk riffage to more rock, more pop got mixed up with significantly new commercial heights (and larger narcotic appetites) and, simultaneously, more instability and simmering fury. By 1969, Sly's newness was transformed, with Stand!'s "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey" snarl and droning organ and wah-wah guitar aplenty. 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. The mega-hit "Everyday People" almost seems an anomaly in this company, a breezy harmony vocal backing, simple piano framing, reaching horn lines, and a churchy chorus. It's the biggest hit here, a true pop gem. Then there's "Sing a Simple Song" and its 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.

Then a dystopian haze turns full-force for There's a Riot Goin' On. By 1971, Sly had his Hollywood mansion and legions of droppers-by laying down parts of Riot. The result is entrancing, backed often by an austere, early drum machine and featuring dope-glazed vocals, paranoid shadows and, of course, a stewing funk groove. Horns are here, thinned out so they jab harder, and the keyboards gleam and shimmer and icily coat the beats, which sound in today's parlance simply lo-fi. And the beats, they've slowed menacingly, with voices dropping in, dropping out. Drugs were flowing freely by this point, complicating Sly's sound, inadvertently making an album that matches its maker's psyche-in-time indelibly. Once 1973's Fresh emerges, the austere, haunted glaze happens beneath slow-stewing grooves, as on the seemingly frivolous "Frisky," where the drums and keys and horns are enmeshed tightly, showing barely any sonic separation. The great bassist Larry Graham had left the Family by now, replaced by Rusty Allen, whose bass pops up as framing, while the vocals go lean and languid, turning to moans and melismatic blurs as the groove stirs. "If You Want Me to Stay" is a highlight, and the album is deeply funky even while reaching across the divide toward pop (rather than the '60s albums bridges to psychedelic rock, which proved itself pragmatically limited for the more intensely rebellious public as the Vietnam War and Watergate sent long social shadows).

As for Small Talk, it's the least ambitious, most settled session. The sounds are gorgeous in the new remastered form, making a new case for Small as a worthy bookend on your Sly shelf. Yes, he burned brighter and hotter and more furiously. It's still the same nervy mix, dramatic and intense. --Andrew Bartlett

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Small Talk
  2. Say You Will
  3. Mother Beautiful
  4. Time for Livin'
  5. Can't Strain My Brain
  6. Loose Booty
  7. Holdin' On
  8. Wishful Thinkin'
  9. Better Thee Than Me
  10. Livin' While I'm Livin'
  11. This Is Love
  12. Crossword Puzzle [Early Version][*]
  13. Time for Livin' [Alternate Version][*]
  14. Loose Booty [Alternate Version][*]
  15. Positive [*][Instrumental]

Disc: 2

  1. Luv N' Haight
  2. Just Like a Baby
  3. Poet
  4. Family Affair
  5. Africa Talks to You "The Asphalt Jungle"
  6. There's a Riot Goin' On
  7. Brave & Strong
  8. (You Caught Me) Smilin'
  9. Time
  10. Spaced Cowboy
  11. Runnin' Away
  12. Thank You for Talkin' to Me Africa
  13. Runnin' Away [Single Version][*]
  14. My Gorilla Is My Butler [#][*][Instrumental]
  15. Do You Know What? [*][Instrumental]
  16. That's Pretty Clean [#][*][Instrumental]

Disc: 3

  1. Stand!
  2. Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey
  3. I Want to Take You Higher
  4. Somebody's Watching You
  5. Sing a Simple Song
  6. Everday People
  7. Sex Machine
  8. You Can Make It If You Try
  9. Stand! [Simple Version]
  10. I Want to Take You Higher [Single Version]
  11. You Can Make It If You Try [#]
  12. Soul Clappin' II [#]
  13. My Brain (Zig-Zag) [#][Instrumental]

Disc: 4

  1. Underdog
  2. If This Room Could Talk
  3. Run, Run, Run
  4. Turn Me Loose
  5. Let Me Hear It from You
  6. Advice
  7. I Cannot Make It
  8. Trip to Your Heart
  9. I Hate to Love Her
  10. Bad Risk
  11. That Kind of Person
  12. Dog
  13. Underdog [Single Version][*]
  14. Let Me Hear It from You [Single Version][*]
  15. Only One Way out of This Mess [*]
  16. What Would I Do [*]
  17. You Better Help Yourself [#][*][Instrumental]

Disc: 5

  1. Dynamite!
  2. Chicken
  3. Plastic Tim
  4. Fun
  5. Into My Own Thing
  6. Harmony
  7. Life
  8. Love City
  9. I'm an Animal
  10. M'Lady
  11. Jane Is a Groupee
  12. Dynamite! [Single Version][*]
  13. Seven More Days [#][*]
  14. Pressure [#][*]
  15. Sorrow [#][*][Instrumental]

Disc: 6

  1. In Time
  2. If You Want Me to Stay
  3. Let Me Have It All
  4. Frisky
  5. Thankful N' Thoughtful
  6. Skin I'm In
  7. I Don't Know (Satisfcation)
  8. Keep on Dancin'
  9. Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)
  10. If It Were Left Up to Me
  11. Babies Makin' Babies
  12. Let Me Have It All [Alternate Mix][#][*]
  13. Frisky [Alternate Mix][#][*]
  14. Skin I'm In [Alternate Mix][#][*]
  15. Keep on Dancin' [Alternate Mix][#][*]
  16. Babies Makin' Babies [Alternate Mix][#][*]

Disc: 7

  1. Dance to the Music
  2. Higher
  3. I Ain't Got Nobody (For Real)
  4. Dance to the Medley: Music Is Alive/Dance In/Music Lover
  5. Ride the Rhythm
  6. Color Me True
  7. Are You Ready
  8. Don't Burn Baby
  9. I'll Never Fall in Love Again
  10. Dance to the Music [Single Version][*]
  11. Higher [#][*]
  12. Soul Clappin' [*]
  13. We Love All [#][*]
  14. I Can't Turn You Loose [#][*]
  15. Never Do Your Woman Wrong [#][*][Instrumental]

Product details

  • Audio CD (April 10, 2007)
  • Limited Edition edition
  • Number of Discs: 7
  • Format: Box set, Limited Edition, Original recording remastered
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Sony / BMG Music Entertainment
  • ASIN: B000N69PD4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #329,512 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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August 17, 2007
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