Greatest Hits

Sly & The Family Stone

Epic, 1970

http://www.slystonemusic.com

REVIEW BY: David Bowling

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/15/2020

1969 ended with Sly & The Family Stone becoming one of the leading concert attractions in the world. In late ’68, their single “Everyday People” reached number one on the American charts and ’69 found its parent album becoming a huge commercial success; it sold three million copies. Combine that with a dynamic performance at the legendary Woodstock, and Sly and company were riding high. They went back into the studio to work of their Star album, but only managed to complete three tracks before abandoning the sessions. It ended up being almost two years between studio albums.

In the meantime, the label assembled a Greatest Hits album to fill the gap. It was a wise move on the part of Epic Records as became their most successful release, reaching number two on Billboard’s charts. It also effectively closed out the first phase of their career. Their next album, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 There’s A Riot Goin’ On, was brilliant but far darker as the biting lyrics dealt with controversial issues. The joyous feel of their first four releases was left behind.

Greatest Hits took not only the best but the most exuberant tracks from their first four releases and added the three tracks that had been recorded for their unissued album. These tracks were also released as successful singles that propelled the album up the charts and kept the group in the public eye.

“Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)/Everybody Is A Star” was a very strong two-sided single and the second number one hit of their career. “Everybody Is A Star” continued the trend of Sly, Larry Graham, Freddie Stone, and Sister Rose trading lead vocal lines. This was one of the smoothest flowing tunes that the group produced.

“Thank You” was the A side of the release and presented their funk sound as fully developed. While the lyrics hinted at a different direction for the group, Larry Graham’s slap bass technique and Greg Errico’s drum rhythms made it one of the most influential songs of its era.

The third song, “Hot Fun In The Summertime,” was another huge hit as it topped out at number two on the national charts. The lyrics, which could be interpreted as both fun and an examination of the race riots of the time, was another funky and melodic delight. If these three songs were representative of the vision of the uncompleted album, then it was indeed a great loss.

The other tracks are everything that was good about the group. “I Want To Take You Higher,” “Dance To The Music,” “Sing A Simple Song,” “Stand,” and “Everyday People” are some of the best songs of the late ‘60s.

In some ways, Greatest Hits is now obsolete as it has been superseded by bigger and more complete compilations. On the other hand, these twelve tracks form a wonderful unit that present Sly & The Family Stone at its joyous best. It’s still worth tracking this album down because if you have a pulse, you’ll want to get up and “Dance To The Music.”

Rating: A-

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