May 11th, 2007
Sony/Legacy is celebrating the 40th anniversary of Sly’s signing to Epic Records and the band’s first release by reissuing all of the Sly & The Family Stone CDs in limited edition digipaks replete with numerous bonus tracks. All seven titles will eventually be released in a limited-edition box set. The three latest releases capture the band at the pinnacle of their career.
Stand!, released in 1969, was Sly & the Family Stone’s 4th and arguably greatest album. In addition to the title track, the CD includes the mega hits “Everyday People” (which reached #1 on the pop/R&B charts), “Sing a Simple Song” and “I Want to Take You Higher,” as well as the edgy and provocative “Don’t Call Me a Nigger, Whitey.” Bonus tracks include the mono single versions of “Stand!” and “I Want to Take You Higher,” as well as the previously unreleased “Soul Clappin’ II,” “My Brain (Zig-Zag)” and single version of “You Can Make It If You Try.” The well-illustrated booklet includes lyrics to all songs and liner notes by Barney Hoskyns.
There’s a Riot Goin’ On, the band’s 5th album originally issued in 1971, is much more cynical and psychedelic, at least in the sense that the band and numerous guest artists occupying Sly’s rented Hollywood mansion were quite literally stoned for days on end. Tracks include the #1 single “Family Affair” and several additional hits such as (You Caught Me) Smilin’”and “Runnin’ Away.” Bonus tracks include three previously unreleased instrumentals as well as the mono single version of “Runnin’ Away.” Liner notes by Joel Selvin summarize the album as “a masterpiece of dark, simmering grooves and visions from the other side.” Ah yes, the ’70s . . .
Two years later the band released their 6th album, Fresh, which as the title implies was a brighter, more focused and much more pop-oriented effort (ah yes, the mid-’70s . . .). Just check out the cover of the album and you’ll know what I mean. Tracks include “If You Want Me To Stay,” “Frisky,” and “If It Were Left Up to Me” which all reached the R&B charts. Bonus tracks include alternate, unreleased mixes of “Let Me Have It All,” “Frisky,” “Skin I’m In,” “Keep On Dancin’,” and “Babies Makin’ Babies.” The booklet features an essay by Toure, “What’s the Difference Between Funk and Soul?” as well as complete song lyrics (which are unfortunately lacking fromthe booklet accompanying There’s A Riot Goin’ On).
Sony/Legacy should be applauded for these fabulous reissues!
Posted by Brenda Nelson-Strauss
Review Genre(s): African American Culture & History