Top positive review
23 people found this helpful
Intoxicating and Superb!
on May 3, 2004
To say that Sly & The Family stone were influential is probably an understatement. Prince has admitted many times that he grew up listening to (and loving) Sly & Company's music, and if you listen to Prince's music, you can hear where he got some of his ideas and techniques. George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic were influenced as well. Sly was probably the singlemost interesting (not to mention, the baddest) funkmeister this side of James Brown (and for what it's worth, I grew up listening to, and loving the music of other funksters like The Ohio Players, Rufus/Chaka Khan, Earth, Wind & Fire, George Clinton and others.)
1969's _Stand_ is a non-stop joy-fest: it's almost impossible not to feel uplifted after listening to this. Similarly, it'll also be difficult to stay still, as the grooves on here are just sexy, funky, infectious and downright delicious. Sly mixed up genders and races in his band, and when listening to the music, you can feel the celebration of harmony, and desire for transcendence over the many ills that have plagued society for the longest time. It was all about injecting positivity and exuberance into this mix of psychedelic funk, soul and rock, and the sunny vibe that runs throughout this album is one of the many things that make this effort highly intoxicating - so intoxicating, that even after three decades since it's release, listeners are, more than possibly, still feeling drunk from it's juices.
Just take a look at some of the song titles: "Stand!," "I Want To Take You Higher," "You Can Make It If You Try" -- the vibes are positive and spiritually uplifting throughout. And leave it to clever Sly to turn something as controversial and touchy as racism ("Don't Call Me...") into something so sexy, intoxicating, scrumptious and downright orgasmic. It's one of the most powerful forms of irony, I think. A reviewer below says there's not enough substance in the lyrics to support the topic. Well, all I have to say about that, is sometimes it's best to let the music do most -- if not all -- of the talking.. and this music doesn't just talk, it hollers! Just listen to the motif in particular (it opens up the song) where Sly is featured on what sounds like a guitar talk box (not sure if it's that, or a production technique), and how it blends with the trumpet calls, the wah-wah (or what I call the 'wow-wow') pedals, the underlying funky two-note bassline punch, and other subtle things. This particular motif is repeated many times throughout the song. However, when this particular motif is heard the final time, it reaches such an intense climax, as these instruments increase in volume and dynamics, not to mention sprinkles of soulful voices coiling around the whole thing, it becomes a devouring, orgasmic ocean of sound and emotion.
The aforementioned gargantuan of sound heard in the previous track said alot more to me than most things ever have (or could) through words. What is it that this music is hollering about? What is it trying to say? What is it pleading for? Transcendence - it's begging and screaming for transcendence over most of the unfortunate happenings (and stupidity) that plague society - racism being a part of this stupidity.
Elsewhere, tracks like "Sing A Simple Song" will get you to do just that -- sing (and dance) right along, and many people (especially of this generation) must be familiar with "Everyday People," as it's been used in certain commercials (as well as being covered by hip-hop band Arrested Development), and the 13-minute "Sex Machine" gives a bluesy I-IV-V a sexy, intoxicating, psychedelic twist, topped off by a drum solo, and some joyful laughter from Sly and gang at the end of the track.
Not much more can be said from me, as words fail to do this band and album justice. The positivity sadly turned sour on their next effort, 1971's _There's A Riot Goin' On_ (another intoxicating effort), as Sly would fall (deeper) into drug abuse and depression. Sly & The Family Stone's music has influenced countless musicians, and they are revered for good reason. This album is one example of their talent and influence.