Sly & the Family Stone
Higher! (Epic / Legacy)
Reviewed by Chase Hoffberger, Fri., Sept. 20, 2013
Sly & the Family StoneHigher! (Epic/Legacy)
Sly Stone's infamous reclusiveness obscures the fact that the Denton native, upon his musical maturation in Southern California, casually spat in the face of racial barriers and remade soul-hued twist & shout music so well that, when Columbia A&R man David Kapralik first requested something big, Stone laid down the directive "Dance to the Music" – his initial Top 10 hit. "Let's not think nothing," he pleads around 1971's There's a Riot Goin' On. "Let's just go play." When that held true, Stone pushed gold. Spanning five discs and the bulk of his recording career, from mid-Sixties recordings under the birth name Sly Stewart through his Sly & the Family Stone apex in 1969 and subsequent funkiest soul ever (1975's High On You), Higher! details every ounce of Stone's genius, while cropping just enough to avoid the lengthy, late-Seventies tailspin continuing on today. Live cuts ("Stand!") and a series of unreleased jams ("Fortune and Fame," "Hoboken") intersperse throughout, complimented by a 98-page collection of photos, internal documents, timelines, and a track-by-track breakdown ranging from the revelatory (guitarist brother Freddie Stewart laid that high wail on 1973's "Skin I'm In") to the benign – Sly on the Jim & Jean remake "What's That Got to Do With Me" ("I just liked the song.") As the man says, "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)."