Friday, July 13, 2007

No. 60: Greatest Hits

Band: Sly & the Family Stone
Album: Greatest Hits
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Sly Stone was a musical genius that fused black and white music in a way that personified the sixties. His optimistic hippy outlook of the band's first few singles turned into the gritty realism of the band's early '70s work.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: Greatest hits packages are never a good idea on this list if there are actual non-compilation records on here for the band. "Stand" and "There's a Riot Goin' On" are both on the list, and, like, half of "Stand" is on "Greatest Hits."
Best song: "I Want To Take You Higher" is probably my favorite song by Sly.
Worst song: "M'Lady" isn't fantastic.
Is it awesome?: Well, yeah. It's a greatest hits compilation.

While the band was on a two-year recording hiatus, Epic Records compiled tracks from the band's three albums and with three new tracks -- "Everyone is a Star", "Hot Fun in the Summertime", and "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" -- to satiate the public's need for Sly & The Family Stone.

The reason for the hiatus appears to be that Sly was on drugs nearly 24 hours a day. This caused some internal strife within the band, eventually drummer Gregg Errico left the band.

Nevertheless, Sly was a genius. Because of his years as a radio DJ at Oakland's KDIA, Stone had loads of knowledge of current music trends. As a black artists in the late '60s, Sly was able to bring gospel, dance and soul into the white music of rock and roll and harder stuff (the fuzz bass being the operative thing). The church organ style of "I Want To Take You Higher" melds with the hard rock of the distorted guitar. "Everybody is a Star" is incredibly optimistic, while "Stand!" is a call to arms that predates the quasi-militancy of "There's A Riot Goin' On" and "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" is a furthering of the theme.

If you don't have "Stand!," this package is a must-have. Sly & The Family Stone is wildly underrated as group.


Loran said...

and no mention of Larry Graham the father of the slap bass. :-(

R.J. said...

I'm saving that for the post on "Stand!"