Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Sly & The Family Stone - Dance To The Music (1968)

All we need is a drummer....


Released April 1968

Recorded in San Francisco

Sly & The Family Stone’s second album, released in 1968, was a ground-breaking piece of work, packed full of funky horn-driven upbeat, uplifting soul.


1. Dance To The Music

2. Higher
3. Ain't Got Nobody
4. Dance To The Medley
5. Ride The Rhythm
6. Color Me True
7. Are You Ready
8. Don't Burn Baby
9. I'll Never Fall In Love Again                 

The title track needs no introduction, as in 60s soul style, Sly introduces the band members to contribute their instrumental pieces - “all we need is a drummer, for people who only want a beat…” You get the picture. “Higher” and “Ain’t Got Nobody” are both vibrant tunes, with those wonderful horns dominating the sound, over Greg Errico’s pounding drums. The eleven-minute ”Dance To The Medley” takes up were “Dance To The Music” left off, giving meets like bassist Larry Graham longer in the spotlight. In effect, it is “Dance To The Music” in an extended jam workout but no matter, it is truly great.

“Ride The Rhythm” has a spectacularly funky, bass-driven intro and develops into a masterpiece of jazz funk. Superb big, rumbling bass. “Color Me True” provides a prototype for the wonderful “psychedelic soul” tracks that The Temptations were soon to release. Sly and his band did it first. Wah-wah guitar and bass all over it. Check out that great guitar on “Are You Ready”, and then those horns again. Man, this is a great album. To think it was only 1968. Sly was considerably ahead of the game.

“Don’t Burn Baby” has a rhythmic conga/guitar intro and the track mutates into a frenetic, almost Rolling Stones-ish number backed by some Latin-Influenced guitar and some wild 60s organ, man. Sly’s vocals show the first signs of the madcap delivery he utilised on occasions. A mini masterpiece of several styles crammed into one.

“I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” ends the album with a more traditional Stax-style soul number, but one that is infused with some deliciously jazzy brass work. Once more, spectacular bass sound.This really is a phenomenal album for the time and the remastered sound is truly sensational, again considering the date of recording. Top notch.

With regard to the extras, I am sure Paul McCartney used the organ riff/high pitched “oohh” backing vocals on “Mumbo” from his “Wild Life” album and there is a deep saxophone bit on the slow burning funk of “We Love All” that David Bowie used on one of his “Heroes” instrumentals. “I Can’t Turn You Loose” is an improvised version of the Otis Redding Atlantic soul classic. Great horns, as you would expect, particularly on this track. “Never Do Your Woman Wrong” is an impressive, toe-tapping organ/horn/drum instrumental workout in a sort of Booker T & The MGs on acid style. Fantastic drum sound half way through. Listen to those keyboards too.


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