Stand! album cover

Sly & the Family Stone


A stunning record that only grew in stature when its frontman masterminded an even more astonishing self-rebuttal two years later, Stand! is the last album Sly & the Family Stone cut in peak togetherness mode before There’s A Riot Goin’ On flipped the table. And good thing, too; after this, where else could they have gone once this album became the apotheosis of everything they’d worked towards? Stand! is Sly and the Family Stone’s best expression of a socially aware yet still guardedly hopeful outlook, made all the more potent by the way they expressed it through both a tighter sense of soul than any outfit West of Memphis and an ability to rock harder than any Haight-Ashbury hippie-dips in a 50-mile radius. They were savvy enough to sneak in the provocative stuff onto freeform radio-and-concert-friendly jam sessions — proto-Riot racial animosity deconstructions (“Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey”) and don’t-stop-rolling instrumental blues-as-innuendo (“Sex Machine”) — while their most potent pop-ready numbers, from the kickoff title cut to “Sing a Simple Song,” “You Can Make It If You Try,” and #1 hit “Everyday People,” found so much strength in their statements of anti-despair that even the harsh realities they addressed felt easy to overcome. All that, and you get “I Want to Take You Higher,” too — boomshakalaka.

Nate Patrin

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