Sly & the Family Stone

The Essential Sly & the Family Stone [Mastercuts]

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Don't be fooled by this Mastercuts "Essential" Sly & the Family Stone collection. There isn't a hit on it, and the only track most folks will remember is "Remember Who You Are" due to the strong A Tribe Called Quest samples. That said, while certainly not essential, these tracks do have merit -- specifically because they are timeless. Recorded in 1979 when Sly was still trying to make a stand in the biz, this music was not touched by disco, though its deep funk basslines -- played by Keni Burke -- certainly influenced it. The 12 cuts here groove, slip, slither, and stomp, though they feel somehow tamer than the glory years of yore. "Back on the Right Track" has killer horn charts and basslines as well as a wonderfully chanted vocal arrangement. Some of this, such as "It Takes All Kinds," feels like filler, while "Same Thing (Makes You Laugh, Makes You Cry)" and the steamy fat groove in "Shine It On" more than make up for it. So, while this set certainly isn't "Essential," it is desirable and compulsively listenable.

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