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Sly and the Family Stone: The Woodstock Experience

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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Sly and the Family Stone: The Woodstock Experience

Sly and the Family Stone: The Woodstock Experience

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The Bottom Line

Sly's legendary Woodstock performance turned a lot of heads when a truncated version appeared in the official concert movie, but the full set is even more of a transcendent rock-funk workout, a cultural milestone, even, and it's never been released until now. Add in a newly-remastered version of the Family's best recorded work, the classic 1969 LP Stand!, and you have a package no Sly fan can possibly pass up.
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Pros

  • Finally, the entire Sly Stone Woodstock set on CD!
  • The remastering is excellent, giving a real immediacy to the live stuff.
  • Sly's "Stand!," his best Sixties album, also sounds better than ever.
  • The Woodstock set is even tighter and more fierce than its legend.

Cons

  • "Stand!" is still marred by the unnecessary "Sex Machine," but that's a minor flaw.

Description

  • Release date: June 30, 2009
  • Sony Legacy 748241
  • Studio/live (1969)
  • 2 discs
  • Unreleased

Guide Review - Sly and the Family Stone: The Woodstock Experience

At 3:30 am, on Sunday, August 17, 1969, Sly and the Family Stone took the stage at Woodstock as the undisputed kings of rock-funk while also sporting a namesake who could arguably claim a place as one of the generation's premier social leaders. And Sly and his multiracial brood, at their absolute creative peak, delivered on expectations -- no less a jam-band authority than Carlos Santana remarked later that he thought the main Stone would burn a hole through his afro.

And yet, for four decades, the full performance was inexplicably only available on bootleg; if you saw the movie which immortalized his performance, you only took in about a third of the smokin' hot set (namely "Music Lover," yet another "Dance To The Music" rewrite, and "I Want To Take You Higher," done as a medley). This package, released as part of The Woodstock Experience multiartist box set and now on its own, consists of one disc of the entire performance and a remastered version of the artist's latest offering at the time, in this case, Sly's most accomplished Sixties album, Stand! The result is an amazingly accomplished and utterly indispensable document of Sly as a funk icon, free thinker, and positive motivator; his Woodstock set lays down the radio-friendly jams hard, opening with "M'Lady" and burning through most of the uptempo Stand! cuts, cleverly sneaking up on the intro to "Sing A Simple Song," delivering an "Everyday People" with even more soul than the original, and offering up the encore of "Stand" as a quiet (at first) hymn for understanding. In the process, he inextricably links the freedom of a great party with the freedom of all humankind, which makes him the quintessential Woodstock performer; tragically, he would move to Los Angeles soon after this, get hooked on cocaine and wrapped up in the black militarist movement, and lose his optimism forever.

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