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It’s a Family Affair: Sly and the Family Stone Want to Take You “Higher!” With New Career-Spanning Box Set

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Sly and the Family Stone - Higher

Epic Records and Legacy Recordings want you to have some hot fun in the summertime. On August 27, the labels will release the first-ever career-spanning box set dedicated to Sly and the Family Stone, as previewed on Record Store Day 2013.  The box succinctly entitled Higher! wants to take you there.  77 tracks chronicle the period between 1964 and 1977, and 17 of those recordings are previously unissued.

Sly Stone, born Sylvester Stewart in 1943, couldn’t hide his prodigious musical talents from an early age.  By the mid-1960s, the Texas boy had found his way to California’s Bay Area and the fertile, experimental scene there.  The hustling young man found gigs as a popular disc jockey for KSOL, and joined the staff at San Francisco’s Autumn Records.  Sly spearheaded a rock-and-roll revival with Bobby Freeman (writer and originator of “Do You Wanna Dance” years earlier) and was instrumental in the success of The Beau Brummels.  It was Sly who produced the Brummels’ 1964 hit “Laugh, Laugh,” on which the Bay Area met the British Invasion head-on.  The enterprising young man also oversaw the early recordings for Autumn subsidiary North Beach of The Great Society including “Someone to Love,” although the sessions were tumultuous.  The Society’s Grace Slick would later turn it into a chart smash on RCA with Jefferson Airplane.  But the newly-rechristened Sly Stone had his sight on even bigger things.

In 1967, Stone assembled a group of multi-racial, male and female musicians to bring to life his vision of a new kind of music.  His brother Freddy (guitar), Larry Graham (bass), Greg Errico (drums), Jerry Martini (saxophone/reeds), Cynthia Robinson (trumpet) would form the Family Stone, with Sly’s sister Rose soon completing the lineup on keyboards.  The Family Stone would be different from Stone’ last band, an R&B outfit cheekily named Sly and the Stoners – it would blend soul, R&B, pop, rock and proto-funk into A Whole New Thing, as the band’s first album was called.  Though that LP didn’t make as many waves as expected, the band’s second album very definitely did.  It was called Dance to the Music, and its title track became Sly and the Family Stone’s first Top 10 hit.

And the hits kept on comin’: “Everyday People” (No. 1), “Hot Fun in the Summertime” (No. 2), “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” (No. 1), “Family Affair” (No. 1), et cetera.  An incendiary performance at Woodstock was just one of the band’s triumphs.  Sly and the Family Stone also reflected the enormous social changes in America with powerfully charged LPs like Stand! and There’s a Riot Goin’ On.  But the original Family Stone broke up in 1975, having already survived the departures of Greg Errico in 1971 and Larry Graham the following year.  Sly would have his very well- publicized ups and downs in the years to come, and he periodically reactivated the Family Stone name, most notably for two Warner Bros. albums in 1979 and 1982.  A 2009 Sly Stone album bore the name I’m Back!  It wasn’t the first such proclamation – and likely won’t be the last – for the iconoclastic music legend.

After the jump: what can you expect on the new box set?  We have more details plus a full track listing with discography, pre-order links, and information on a bonus exclusive!

The first disc of Higher! traces Stone’s career from early Autumn Records productions through Sly and the Family Stone’s first album, 1967’s A Whole New Thing.  It includes both sides of the rare 1967 Loadstone Records single “I Ain’t Got Nobody (For Real)” b/w “I Can’t Turn You Loose,” and closes with a handful of previously unreleased outtakes and demos.  The second disc charts the seminal 1967-1968 period of extreme creativity and inspiration, taking in songs from Dance to the Music and Life (both 1968) plus rare singles, alternates, and another load of never-before-heard Family Stone performances.  Disc Three (1968-1970) reprises tracks from the anthemic 1969 album Stand! plus mono singles and four previously unreleased performances from the Isle of Wight Festival recorded on August 30, 1970.  Disc Four (1971-1977) includes songs from There’s a Riot Goin’ On (1971), Fresh (1973) and Small Talk (1974) – with many songs in their original single mixes – plus a previously unreleased track from Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert and a couple of Sly Stone solo outtakes circa 1975-1977.

The set is accompanied by a meaty 104-page booklet.  It includes a new essay, an illustrated timeline of Stone’s career, track-by-track notes, rare photographs, record label and picture sleeve reproductions, vintage concert images and more memorabilia. Jeff Kaliss, author of the authorized biography I Want To Take You Higher: The Life And Times Of Sly & The Family Stone, handled much of the set’s annotation.  Vic Anesini has remastered all music for the box, which has been produced by Sundazed’s Bob Irwin with Project A&R by Legacy’s Rob Santos.  It all likely adds up to the definitive survey of the Epic Records golden years of Sly and the Family Stone.

Higher! is available not only as a 4-CD box set, but as an 8-LP/4-CD box, and a single disc of highlights.  Do you want Sly to take you there?  You can pre-order the new box set at the links below!  If you pre-order the CD or CD/vinyl box sets at, you will receive a 6-track bonus CD with more rare and previously unissued tracks – so don’t miss out!

Sly & The Family Stone, Higher! (Epic/Legacy 88697 53665 2)

4-CD Box Set with 6-Track Bonus CD

8-LP/4-CD Box Set with 6-Track Bonus CD

Single CD Highlights

Disc 1 (1964-1967)

  1. I Just Learned How to Swim – Sly Stewart (single A-side – Autumn Records #3, 1964)
  2. Scat Swim – Sly Stewart (single B-side – Autumn Records #3, 1964)
  3. Buttermilk (Part 1) – Sly (single A-side – Autumn Records #14, 1965)
  4. Dance All Night – Sly and Freddie (1965, originally unissued)
  5. Temptation Walk – Sly (single A-side – Autumn Records #23, 1965)
  6. I Ain’t Got Nobody (for Real) (single A-side – Loadstone 3951, 1967)
  7. I Can’t Turn You Loose (single B-side – Loadstone 3951, 1967)
  8. Higher (mono single master – Epic 5-10229 (promo only), 1967)
  9. Underdog (mono single master – Epic 5-10229, 1967)
  10. Bad Risk (mono single master – Epic 5-10229, 1967)
  11. Let Me Hear It from You (mono single master – Epic 5-10256, 1967)
  12. Advice (from A Whole New Thing – Epic LN 24324 (mono), 1967)
  13. If This Room Could Talk (from A Whole New Thing – Epic LN 24324 (mono), 1967)
  14. I Cannot Make It (from A Whole New Thing – Epic LN 24324 (mono), 1967)
  15. Trip to Your Heart (from A Whole New Thing – Epic LN 24324 (mono), 1967)
  16. I Hate to Love Her (from A Whole New Thing – Epic LN 24324 (mono), 1967)
  17. Silent Communications (1967, previously unissued)
  18. I Get High on You (Version 1, 1967, previously unissued)
  19. I Remember (1967, previously unissued)
  20. My Woman’s Head (instrumental demo, 1967, previously unissued)

Disc 2 (1967-1968)

  1. What’s That Got to Do with Me (1967, previously unissued)
  2. Fortune and Fame (1967, previously unissued)
  3. What Would I Do (from A Whole New Thing: Expanded Edition – Epic/ Legacy 82796 90277 2, 2007)
  4. Only One Way Out of This Mess (from A Whole New Thing: Expanded Edition – Epic/ Legacy 82796 90277 2, 2007)
  5. I Know What You Came to Say (1967, previously unissued)
  6. Dance to the Music (mono single master – Epic 5-10256, 1967)
  7. Ride the Rhythm (from Dance to the Music – Epic BN 26371, 1968)
  8. Color Me True (from Dance to the Music – Epic BN 26371, 1968)
  9. Are You Ready (from Dance to the Music – Epic BN 26371, 1968)
  10. Don’t Burn Baby (from Dance to the Music – Epic BN 26371, 1968)
  11. We Love All (from Dance to the Music: Expanded Edition – Epic/Legacy 82796 90274 2, 2007)
  12. Danse A La Musique – The French Fries (mono single – Epic 5-10313, 1968)
  13. Small Fries – The French Fries (mono single – Epic 5-10313, 1968)
  14. Chicken (mono single master – Epic 5-10333 (cancelled), 1968)
  15. Into My Own Thing (from Life – Epic BN 26397, 1968)
  16. Life (mono single master – Epic 5-10353, 1968)
  17. Love City (1968, previously unissued mono mix)
  18. M’Lady (mono single master – Epic 5-10353, 1968)
  19. Dynamite! featuring Johnny Robinson on vocals (1968, previously unissued)
  20. Undercat (instrumental, 1967, previously unissued)

Disc 3 (1968-1970)

  1. Everyday People (mono single master – Epic 5-10407, 1968)
  2. Sing a Simple Song (mono single master – Epic 5-10407, 1968)
  3. I Get High on You (Version 2, 1968, previously unissued)
  4. Wonderful World of Color (instrumental, 1968, previously unissued)
  5. Pressure (from Life: Expanded Edition – Epic/Legacy 82876 83945 2, 2007)
  6. I Want to Take You Higher (mono single master – Epic 5-10450, 1969)
  7. Seven More Days (from Life: Expanded Edition – Epic/Legacy 82876 83945 2, 2007)
  8. Feathers (instrumental, 1968, previously unissued)
  9. Somebody’s Watching You (from Stand! – Epic BN 26456, 1969)
  10. Sex Machine (from Stand! – Epic BN 26456, 1969)
  11. Hot Fun in the Summertime (mono single master – Epic 5-10497, 1969)
  12. Everybody is a Star (mono single master – Epic 5-10555, 1969)
  13. Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) (mono single master – Epic 5-10555, 1969)
  14. Stand! (Live at the Isle of Wight Festival, August 30, 1970) (from The First Great Rock Festivals of the Seventies – Columbia C 30807, 1971)
  15. You Can Make It If You Try (Live at the Isle of Wight Festival, August 30, 1970) (from The First Great Rock Festivals of the Seventies – Columbia C 30807, 1971)
  16. Dance to the Music (Live at the Isle of Wight Festival, August 30, 1970) (previously unissued)
  17. Medley: Music Lover/I Want to Take You Higher/Music Lover (Live at the Isle of Wight Festival, August 30, 1970) (previously unissued)

Disc 4 (1971-1977)

  1. Luv N’ Haight (single master – Epic 5-10805, 1971)
  2. Family Affair (from There’s A Riot Goin’ On – Epic KE 30986, 1971)
  3. Brave & Strong (single master – Epic 5-10829, 1971)
  4. Runnin’ Away (single master – Epic 5-10829, 1971)
  5. (You Caught Me) Smilin’ (single master – Epic 5-10850, 1971)
  6. Spaced Cowboy (from There’s A Riot Goin’ On – Epic KE 30986, 1971)
  7. You’re the One (featuring Little Sister) (Live on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, September 1973, previously unissued)
  8. In Time (from Fresh – Epic KE 32134, 1973)
  9. If You Want Me to Stay (single master – Epic 5-11017, 1973)
  10. Frisky (single master – Epic 5-11060, 1973)
  11. Skin I’m In (from Fresh – Epic KE 32134, 1973)
  12. If It Were Left Up to Me (single master – Epic 5-11060, 1973)
  13. Time for Livin’ (single master – Epic 8-11140, 1974)
  14. Can’t Strain My Brain (single master – Epic 8-50033, 1974)
  15. Loose Booty (from Small Talk – Epic PE 32930, 1974)
  16. Le Lo Li (single master – Epic 8-50175, 1975)
  17. Crossword Puzzle (single master – Epic 8-50201, 1975)
  18. Family Again (Epic single 8-50331, 1976)
  19. Hoboken – Sly Stone (originally unissued, 1975-1977)
  20. High – Sly Stone (1975, previously unissued)

Amazon-Exclusive Bonus Disc (previously unreleased except where noted)

  1. Stand! (Long Version)
  2. TV Medley: Sing a Simple Song/Hot Fun in the Summertime/I Want to Take You Higher (from Epic/Legacy 10″ single 88883 70342 7, 2013)
  3. Time for Livin’ (Alternate Record Plant Mix)
  4. Saint James Infirmary (Instrumental) (Live)
  5. Sittin’ on My Fanny
  6. Dust to Dust (Instrumental)

Written by Joe Marchese

May 31, 2013 at 12:45

8 Responses

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  1. I’ve been waiting for this a long time. It should be the release of the year (for me, anyway)! Will the 6 track bonus CD be offered through as well?

    Jason Michael

    May 31, 2013 at 22:24

  2. Way too expensive for me, $70 for 4 CD’s (even +a free one)?!


    June 1, 2013 at 05:35

  3. yeah, give Sly more royalty money for his “indulgences.”


    June 1, 2013 at 17:37

  4. The single disc will likely be enough for me, I think, although there are great tracks that on the 4 disc that I’d like to have.

    The reissued Stand!, which came with Sly’s Woodstock set, a few years ago is also totally worth it.


    June 1, 2013 at 20:57

  5. I am tired of “bonus” discs available only through a single outlet. They ought to put it all out for everyone.

    Martin Kasdan Jr

    June 2, 2013 at 00:09

  6. The “deluxe 10×10-inch packaging” is what turns me off. Over-sized packaging is too much of a hassle to find a place to store. Were it in smaller packaging half that size I would have bought it though.


    June 4, 2013 at 17:41

  7. Funny how that 10″ Record Store Day release medley has ended up on the Amazon exclusive CD box set, despite assurances that it would not be on the box. Way to rip people off, Sony.

    Pete M

    June 5, 2013 at 21:17

  8. Actually, the press release for the Record Store Day titles states:

    “SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE – 10” Vinyl “I Want To Take You Higher”
    Side One of this 10″ vinyl release features a previously unreleased live medley of “Music Lover/I Want To Take You Higher/Music Love” and the mono single master of “Higher.”
    Side Two of I Want To Take You Higher is a previously unissued TV medley of “Sing A Simple Song/Hot Fun In The Summertime/I Want To Take You Higher.”

    There is nothing there to say that it wouldn’t be released in the future, just that it was unreleased until now. And I think it’s nice to have a digital release of it.
    Assuming I can get one in Canada!

    Jason Michael

    June 5, 2013 at 21:53

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