The Essential Sly & the Family Stone does what a double-CD best-of/career overview should do: it packs a lot of career highlights into a two-disc set for listeners who want more than the basic greatest hits, but don't want every last album. Of course, all of those greatest hits are here, including a few from 1970 that didn't make it onto album releases at the time. As you'd expect, the fattest slice comes from Sly & the Family Stone's late-'60s/early-'70s peak: in fact, most of the tracks from the Stand! and There's a Riot Goin' On albums are here. The fun extras come in the not-too-well-known tracks from pre-Stand! albums and Fresh (which is actually amply represented, with six cuts). This doesn't quite deserve the highest rating, as the post-There's a Riot Goin' On material doesn't keep up the momentum of the rest of the set. Small Talk and Sly Stone's 1975 solo effort, High on You, are wisely lightly plucked, though at least the hits from those albums are the three cuts selected. This deserves better annotation than the cursory liner notes, but otherwise it's an excellent summary of a major rock and soul band.
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2