Dance to the Music was made under duress. Sly Stone had been told by his label boss, Clive Davis, to make something more poppy than the radical vision of funk he’d eventually make on latter albums. Not only did Sly make a hit album, he also accidentally invented the genre of psychedelic soul, wherein everyone from the Temptations to the Isleys started wearing paisley and singing about cosmic brotherhood. What the imitators never got exactly right is the grooves of this version of Sly and the Family Stone: The music here might be pop-oriented and earnest in subject matter, but Sly and his family bring the absolute heat on these nine songs.
Before making their masterpiece, There’s a Riot Goin’ On, Sly and the Family Stone made their artistic and commercial breakthrough: Stand! the group’s biggest album, one that was immediately followed by a Woodstock performance and the release of a Greatest Hits album that took five of the eight songs from Stand! and put them alongside other earlier hits. The point is: Stand! is a masterful achievement, a moment when a band’s artistic greatness was appropriately recognized by the record buying public, something that rarely happens as cleanly and directly as it did on Stand! Featuring some of the band’s best and most beloved songs, it’s absolutely essential to every record collection that houses it.