The Upshot: 1968 recordings display plenty of funk-drenched sociopolitical songs to fill an electrifying set.
BY JOHN B. MOORE
Based on the last “reunion” gig Sly & The Family Stone committed to – a whopping three-whole minutes into a song at the 2006 Grammys before Sly Stone walked off stage – the chances of ever hearing the band perform any new shows live again is about as likely as someone admitting to liking Nickleback unironically.
But thanks to the folks at Epic/Legacy who took a deep walk into the company vaults recently, fans now have something new to obsess over. The label unearthed a stellar collection of songs the band recorded over two night in 1968. Put to tape at the famed New York venue, Epic Records recorded all four of these concerts (two shows per night) and had planned to release an album decades ago. For reasons unknown, the project stalled until now.
These shows capture Sly and his group just after their earliest hit and boasts of a tight group on its rise up – not yet having imploded thanks to drugs. On the downside, it was still a year or so before the group would put out their best albums (1969’s Stand! and 1970’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On, so you won’t hear “Everyday People” or “I Want to Take You Higher” on this collection), but the band still has plenty of funk-drenched sociopolitical songs here to fill an electrifying set. Among the highlights here are the infectious “Won’t Be Long” and the “Turn Me Loose/I Can’t Turn Loose” medley.
The 4-CD set is also being partially released as a double vinyl “Best Of” collection (curated by The Roots’ Captain Kirk Douglas), but unless you’re a completest and need to have both, the CD set capturing all four shows is where you should spend your money.
You heard the man, get up and dance to the music.
DOWNLOAD: Oh, no, no, no. This album is not one of those where you pick and choose which songs you want to download. You buy the whole set and consume it in order.