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Album Review

Sly Stone didn't just pop out of nowhere in the late 1960s. He had a long musical apprenticeship, studying music composition and theory and the trumpet in college, had logged lots of hours as a San Francisco DJ, and was a producer at Autumn Records. He spent a lot of time in recording studies working on his own projects, as well, and some of that is collected here in this wonderful look at the musical roots that would later all come together as Sly & the Family Stone. Tracked in 1965 and 1966, a year or so before Sly would burst on the national music scene with his mature sound, these recordings have a delightful diversity as Sly tries on all kinds of musical hats. Among the highlights are a bustling, R&B-laced version of Jimmy Reed's "Ain't That Lovin' You Baby," a crisp, professional "Seventh Son," and the joyous doo wop of "You're My Only Love" and "Oh What a Night." Although nothing here has the sheer power and energy of Sly's later work, it's still revealing and fun and completely delightful on its own terms.


Formed: 1967 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s

Sly & the Family Stone harnessed all of the disparate musical and social trends of the late '60s, creating a wild, brilliant fusion of soul, rock, R&B, psychedelia, and funk that broke boundaries down without a second thought. Led by Sly Stone, the Family Stone was comprised of men and women, and blacks and whites, making the band the first fully integrated group in rock's history. That integration shone through the music, as well as the group's message. Before Stone, very few soul and R&B groups...
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