Sly & The Family Stone: The Essential 3.0

Eco-friendly expansion of effective career overview

Several of Legacy’s two-disc Essential releases have been upgraded with a third-disc and plastic-free eco-friendly packaging. Such is the case for the original 35-track 2003 issue of this set, augmented here with eight additional tunes on a third disc. Although the third disc clocks in at only 32 minutes, it adds an additional track from each of Dance to the Music, Life, Stand!, There’s a Riot Goin’ On, Fresh, and Small Talk. Nearly fourteen minutes of the bonus disc is taken up by the funk instrumental “Sex Machine,” but more impressive is the group’s tour de force cover of “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be).” The set’s booklet is a straight reproduction from the original release; the third-disc’s extra songs are credited on an inside panel of the quad-fold digipack.

The bulk of the collection as originally issued surveys tracks from the group’s 1967 debut LP A Whole New Thing through Sly Stone’s 1975 solo album High On You. Left out is the 1976 reunion album Heard Ya Missed Me, Well I’m Back and later albums recorded for Warner Brothers. The selections weigh more heavily to the group’s peak mid-period albums, with the group’s last first-run album Small Talk represented by only two cuts, and Stone’s solo album only one. For most fans this will be a welcome balance, leaving room for a trio of group-defining hit singles (“Hot Fun in the Summertime,” “Everybody is a Star” and “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)”) that turned up on the 1969 Greatest Hits album. What’s missing, and what might have made the bonus disc more attractive to collectors, is material not readily available elsewhere on CD.

The forty-three selections provide a representative sampling of tracks from the group’s seven Epic albums (eight if you include Greatest Hits), creating both a one-stop shop for those who want to get to the core of the band’s legendary blend of soul, funk, jazz, rock and psychedelia, and a roadmap for those who want to explore the original releases. The 12-panel foldout booklet provides cursory discographical and chart details, a personnel listing, a few photos and disappointingly generic liner notes. [©2008 hyperbolium dot com]

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