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"...Family Affair..." - Original Album Classics by SLY & THE FAMILY STONE (2013 Epic/Legacy 5CD Mini Box Set Remasters)
on 13 January 2015
First appearing in 2010 in the USA as part of Sony's "Original Album Classics" series of 5CD mini box sets (Cata No. 8869770802) - this 2013 repackaged version is out of Europe and uses different (some would say prettier) artwork and new catalogue number (88883743022). Although you get a flimsy card slipcase (as opposed to the hard card of the original American issues) - the best news is that you also get the 2007 BOB IRWIN/VIC ANESINI CD remasters - with all five of the albums retaining their expanded bonus tracks. In short there's a whole lot of historical Soul and Funk on here for not a lot of wedge. Here are the Luv N' Haight details...
Euro released August 2013 - "Original Album Classics" by SLY & THE FAMILY STONE on Epic/Legacy 88883743022 (Barcode 888837430227) breaks down as follows:
Disc 1 (56:36 minutes):
2. If This Room Could Talk
3. Run, Run, Run
4. Turn Me Loose
5. Let Me Hear It From You
7. I Cannot Make It [Side 2]
8. Trip To Your Heart
9. I Hate To Love Her
10. Bad Risk
11. That Kind Of Person
Tracks 1 to 12 are their debut album "A Whole New Thing" - released October 1967 in the USA on Epic LN 24324 (Mono) and BN 26324 (Stereo) - the Stereo mix is used. There was no UK issue of this album.
13. Underdog (Single Version, Mono) - 1967, USA 7" on Epic 10229, B-side to "Higher"
14. Let Me Hear It From You (Single Version, Mono) - 1967, USA 7" on Epic 10256, non-album B-side to "Dance To The Music"
15. Only One Way Out Of This Mess
16. What Would I Do
17. You Better Help Yourself (Instrumental)
Track 16 is previously unreleased and first appeared on the 1997 Legacy remaster of the "A Whole New Thing" album. Tracks 13, 14, 15 and 17 are Previously Unreleased also and first appeared on the 2007 Legacy Expanded CD remaster of the album
Disc 2 (58:18 minutes):
1. Dance To The Music
3. I Ain't Got Nobody (For Real)
4. Dance To The Medley: Music Is Alive/Dance In/Music Lover
5. Ride The Rhythm [Side 2]
6. Color Me True
7. Are You Ready
8. Don't Burn Baby
9. Never Will I Fall In Love Again
Tracks 1 to 9 are their 2nd album "Dance To The Music" - released April 1968 in the USA on Epic LN 24371 (Mono) and BN 26371 (Stereo) - the Stereo mix is used. It was issued September 1968 in the UK on Direction 8-63412
10. Dance To The Music (Single Version, Mono)
11. Higher (Single Version, Mono)
12. Soul Clappin'
13. We Love All
14. I Can't Turn You Loose
15. Never Do Your Woman Wrong (Instrumental)
Tracks 11 and 13 to 15 Previously Unreleased - first appeared 2007 on the Legacy Expanded CD remaster of "Dance To The Music". Track 12 is previously unreleased and first appeared on the 1997 Legacy CD of the album.
Disc 3 (43:38 minutes):
3. Plastic Jam
5. Into My Own Thing
7. Life [Side 2]
8. Love City
9. I'm An Animal
11. Jane Is A Groupee
Tracks 1 to 11 are their 3rd album "Life" - released November 1968 in the USA on Epic BN 26397 (Stereo only) and January 1969 in the UK as "M'lady" on Direction 8-63461
12. Dynamite! (Single Version, Mono)
13. Seven More Days
15. Sorrow (Instrumental)
Tracks 12 to 15 are Previously Unreleased on CD - first appeared 2007 on the Legacy Expanded CD remaster of "Life"
Disc 4 (58:26 minutes):
2. Don't Call Me N*****, Whitey
3. I Want To Take You Higher
4. Somebody's Watching You
5. Sing A Simple Song
6. Everyday People [Side 2]
7. Sex Machine
8. You Can Make It If You Try
Tracks 1 to 8 are their 4th album "Stand!" - released April 1969 in the USA on Epic BN 26456 (Stereo only) and July 1969 in the UK on Direction 8-63655.
9. Stand! (Single Version, Mono)
10. I Want To Take You Higher (Single Version, Mono)
11. You Can Make It With You (Single Version, Mono)
12. Soul Clappin' II
13. My Brain (Zig-Zag) (Instrumental)
Tracks 12 and 13 are Previously Unreleased and all tracks first appeared on the 2007 Legacy expanded CD Remaster of "Stand!"
Disc 5 (65:32 minutes):
1. Luv N' Haight
2. Just Like A Baby
4. Family Affair
5. Africa Talks To You ("The Asphalt Jungle")
6. There's A Riot Goin' On
7. Brave & Strong [Side 2]
8. (You Caught Me) Smilin'
10. Spaced Cowboy
11. Runnin' Away
12. Thank You For Talkin' To Me, Africa
Tracks 1 to 12 are their 5th album "There's A Riot Goin' On" - released November 1971 in the USA on Epic KC 30986 and January 1972 in the UK on Epic S EPC 64613). Although the title is famously listed as "There's A Riot Goin' On" at the end of Side 1 on the original vinyl album - the song is in fact not there (no seconds - no playing time). In order to acknowledge its presence however - the CD reissue gives it a playing time of 4 seconds of silence (hence the confusion with people feeling it's a mastering mistake/track missing - it's not)
13. Runnin' Away (Single Version)
14. My Gorilla Is My Butler (Instrumental)
15. Do You Know What? (Instrumental)
16. That's Pretty Clean (Instrumental)
The carp repro sleeves are lovely to look at for the first three upbeat Soul albums - but with "Stand!" having a virtually blank rear and "There's A Riot Goin' On" missing its gatefold (with all the recording info on the inner) - there's nothing to get your teeth into reading wise. And as fans will know - there have been almost entire books devoted to the recording, release of and posthumous importance of the acidic and incoherently trippy "There's A Riot Goin' On" LP (a US R&B Number 1) alone. This is one of those times in this value-for-money series where you wish a half-decent booklet accompanied the release - because there's much to say (and learn).
The 2007 VIC ANESINI Stereo remasters are thankfully used and are typically superb especially on the first three albums. "Underdog" and "Let Me Hear It From You" have amazing clarity - both the vocals and brass. The hard guitar opening of "Dynamite!" is incredible as are the drums and fairground piano on "Into My Thing". But perhaps best soundwise is the near fourteen-minute Side 2 Funk workout on "Stand!" - "Sex Machine". It has moments of hiss for sure but that warbling vocal, sustained organ note, shuffling rhythm section and guitar soloing all the way to the end - are all clear and reporting for duty. Even on the notorious overdubbed tape mess that is 1971's "Riot" where Sly went over things so many times that to this day there is `muddiness' to the whole recording that cannot be removed (and some would say cannot be improved upon either) - even that is audibly improved (to a degree). That blurred sound to the brass work on "Runnin' Away" is a good example and the mumbling druggy crap that he spouts in "Spaced Cowboy" is almost coherent (almost). But then you get magnificence like the nine-minute funk of "Africa Talks To You..." with its drum/keyboard/vocal layers that amble but yet somehow work. The CD audio is excellent compared to my battered British vinyl original where turning it up back in the day only elicited walls of hiss.
The mega singles like "Dance To The Music", "I Want To Take You Higher", "Family Affair" and the joyous "Everyday People" all sound glorious - the Mono versions of "Let Me Hear It From You" and "You Can Make It If You Try" are impressively punchy too. But a quick look down the track lists will show some obvious holes - huge hits like "Hot Fun In The Summertime" and especially "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" aren't here (which is a damn shame). But at this price you can't have everything.
A pioneer, a hero, a drugged-up nutjob - Sly Stone was all of these and more. Mostly though you're left impressed and wanting more...and that's a complaint I'll take any day of the week...