I Want To Take You Higher

There's a great, contentious review in the next issue of Uncut by Peter Shapiro. Addressing the expanded reissues of their first seven albums, Peter asserts, "Sly & the Family Stone were the quintessential artists of the 1960s - the only ones who actually put the rhetoric of ‘60s idealism into practice"

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There’s a great, contentious review in the next issue of Uncut by Peter Shapiro. Addressing the expanded reissues of their first seven albums, Peter asserts, “Sly & the Family Stone were the quintessential artists of the 1960s – the only ones who actually put the rhetoric of ‘60s idealism into practice”



Stated so baldly, it looks a pretty foolhardy claim. Peter’s not one for crass grandstanding, though, and he makes a compelling case to back it up (excuse the cynical marketing ploy, but you’ll have to buy the mag at the end of the month to read it all).

Anyway, I’ve been working my way through the reissues over the past couple of days, and I’m beginning to see his point. I’m also beginning to question the standard critical perspective on Sly – that “There’s A Riot Goin’ On” is his high watermark. Amazing record, of course, but today I’m drawn more to “Dance To The Music” (1968) and “Stand!” (1969)

“There’s A Riot Goin’ On” has all the traditional signifiers of a critic’s favourite: the phenomenally messed-up vibe, the spiritual turmoil. It’s very “dark”. But “Dance To The Music” is a different kind of triumph, a relentless celebration of collective effort. It peaks with “Dance To The Medley”, ideas crashing into one another, a sort of jumpy, ecstatic fluency underpinning everything.

I’m going to take them all home for the weekend, along with a bunch of stuff that I’ll try and get round to writing about next week – new albums by Mavis Staples and Bill ‘Smog’ Callahan, a great new folk thing by Lavender Diamond, some fierce psych jams by Corsano & Flower, a mighty Neil Young solo gig from 1971. God knows what else, really.

Let me know how I’m doing if you’ve a moment to post a comment. And don’t forget to mention if there are any forthcoming albums you’d like me to dig out.

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