Monday, 4 July 2011

100 Lps Shortlist #12: Sly and The Family Stone - "Stand!"

Sly and the Family Stone - Stand!

Sly and the Family Stone are the classic personification of 1960s egalitarianism. A funk-rock-psychedelic-soul-R&B band with a mixture of white, black, male AND female musicians, singing songs of joy and peace during the revolutionary hippy era.

Their fourth LP, "Stand!", released in 1969, 4 months before they appeared at Woodstock, is their finest moment.

It could be argued that only a band of this type, playing this kind of music could have come from San Francisco in the 1960s; a product of it's time, maybe. However, the music contained within is timeless. It still has the power to move hearts, minds and booties all these years later. It was unique-sounding then, and it still is now.

I first heard this one after I found a copy at my local Salvation Army store in 1994 for $1. It was scratched to the shithouse. I bought it anyway. Despite the surface noise created from years of neglect, the music was still powerful. "I Want To Take You Higher" and "Sing A Simple Song" hit like electric shocks - simply amazing.

Over the 8 songs here, you have flat out party jams in the form of "I Want To Take You Higher", pleas for equality in "Stand!" and "Everyday People", hope and positivity in "You Can Make It if You Try", pointed civil rights criticism with "Don't Call Me N*****, Whitey" and inner-city paranoia (the kind that would come to its full fruition on 1971's "There's a Riot Goin' On") with "Somebody's Watching You". The only real flat spot on the record is the 13+ minute instrumental blues jam "Sex Machine", which is about 8 minutes too long, however, still worth the listen.

Taken as a whole, this is one stellar collection. Enjoy!

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