SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE-WOODSTOCK SUNDAY AUGUST 17 1969-RECORD STORE DAY

Sly and The Family Stone –Woodstock Sunday August 17, 1969-Record Store Day.

Label: We Are Vinyl.

Between 1966 and 1976, psychedelic soul pioneers Sly and The Family Stone released eight studio albums and their first Greatest Hits album, which  showcased their genre-melting music.  It took as a starting point psychedelic soul and added funk and rock to this heady musical brew. This proved an irresistible for many record buyers. However, that was only part of the story of Sly and the Family Stone whose message was one of peace, brotherly love, and anti-racism

There’s much more to the story of Sly and the Family Stone. It’s also a story that features gangsters, death threats, drugs and the thugs that infiltrated one of the greatest bands of the late-sixties and early seventies.  All this played a part in the rise and demise of  Sly and the Family Stone.

Their story began in 1966, when Sly Stone formed Sly Stone and The Stoners which featured his friend Cynthia Robinson on trumpet. Meanwhile, Sly Stone’s brother Freddie Stone was also founding a new group Freddie and The Stone Souls. Its lineup included drummer Gregg Errico  and saxophonist Ronnie Crawford. Saxophonist Jerry Martini who was a friend of Sly Stone’s, suggested that the Sly and Freddie Stone should combine the two bands. This made sense, and Sly Brothers and Sisters was born. However, in October 1966 Sly Brothers and Sisters became Sly and the Family Stone.

Soon, Vanetta Stewart, Mary McCreary and Elva Mouton who had their own gospel group The Heavenly Tones approached Sly Stone about joining the nascent group. He agreed and they became Little Sister, who became Sly and the Family Stone’s backing vocalists.

It wasn’t long before Sly and the Family Stone came to the attention of record companies. This happened after a gig at the Winchester Cathedral, which was a night club in Redwood City, California. After the show, CBS Records David Kapralik executive approached Sly and the Family Stone. He had heard the group’s set and wanted to sign them to CBS’s Epic Records label. Soon, a deal was concluded and Sly and The Family Stone began work on their debut album A Whole New Thing.

A Whole New Thing.

In October 1967, Sly and the Family Stone prepared to release their debut album A Whole New Thing. It had been recorded live in the studio and found Sly and The Family Stone fusing soul and funk. Although reviews of the album were mixed, a number of musicians, including Mose Allison and Tony Bennett were won over by the album. Alas, when A Whole New Thing was released, it failed to chart. This was a disappointing start to Sly and the Family Stone’s recording career.

Dance To The Music.

After the commercial failure of A Whole New Thing, CBS executive Clive Davis asked Sly Stone to make his music more poppy. This he hoped would find favour with DJs and record buyers. Sly Stone decided to write music that would please his employer, and come up with what was essentially a musical formula. Still, though, it allowed Sly and the Family Stone to spread their message of peace, brotherly love, and anti-racism and reach a much wider audience.

The song that Sly Stone wrote was the anthemic Dance To The Music. When it was recorded, new vocalist and keyboardist Rose Stone  made her debut. On it release, Dance To The Music reached number eight in the US Billboard 100 and US R&B charts. This was Sly and The Family Stone’s psychedelic soul debut, which was copied by many within the music industry.

In April 1968, Sly and the Family Stone returned with their sophomore album Dance To The Music. This album of psychedelic soul was released to critical acclaimed and is now regarded as an influential and innovative album. Dance To The Music reached 142 in the US Billboard 200 and eleven in the US R&B charts. Sly and The Family Stone’s career was underway.

Life.

Sly and The Family Stone was keen to build on the success of Dance To The Music, and four five months later returned with their third album Life. While it was well received by critics and featured songs of the quality of Fun,  Love City and M’Lady, Life failed to replicate the success of Dance To The Music. Instead, it stalled at a lowly 195 on the  US Billboard 200. It was a case of one step forward and two back for Sly and The Family Stone.

Stand.

After the disappointing sales of Life, Sly and The Family Stone began work on the band’s fourth album Stand. It was written and produced by lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Sly Stone. He and the rest of Sly and The Family Stone had surpassed their previous efforts.

When critics heard Stand the hailed the album Sly and The Family Stone’s finest hour, pointing at the quality of songs like Sing A Simple Song, I Want To Take You Higher, Stand  and Everyday People. Stand was a classic in-waiting and would transform Sly and The Family Stone’s career.

Everyday People was released as the lead single from Stand in 1969, and topped the US Billboard 100 and US R&B charts. This augured well for the release of Stand. When it was released in May 1969, Stand reached number thirteen in the US Billboard 200 and three in the US R&B charts. By November 1969 Stand had sold over 500,000 copies, was certified gold. Seventeen years later, and Stand was certified platinum. Now Stand was sold over three million copies and is one Sly and The Family Stone’s most successful albums.

Woodstock.

Following Stand, Sly and The Family Stone were invited to appear at Woodstock, and were one of the stars of the legendary festival. Their early morning set on ‘17th’ August 1969, was one of the highlights of Woodstock, and their set was released as a two LP set for Record Store Day 2019. It’s entitled Woodstock Sunday August 17, 1969-Record Store Day and was released by We Are Vinyl and features Sly and The Family Stone at the peak of their powers.

That morning, they opened their set with M’Lady which gave way to Sing A Simple Song, You Can Make It If You Try, Everyday People and the anthemic Dance To The Music. From there, a medley of Music Lover and Higher are followed by one of the the highlights of the set, Want To Take You Higher which is another anthem from Sly and The Family Stone who were fusing psychedelic soul, funk and rock to create a truly heady musical brew. This continued on Love City before they close the show with Stand! which is a reminder if any was needed, of how good a band Sly and The Family Stone were in 1969. 

Their appearance at Woodstock  further cemented their huge popularity, abd Sly and The Family Stone’s profile was at an all time high. Their record company CBS was desperate for a new album.Deadlines for a new album were set, and deadlines were missed. For CBS, this was frustrating as Sly and The Family Stone  had never been as popular. If the band had completed their album on time, it could’ve been their biggest selling album. When CBS realised that a new album wasn’t going to be imminent, they had to settle for Sly and The Family Stone’s’ first Greatest Hits album which was released in 1970, and sold over five million albums. This was helped by their appearance at Woodstock when Sly and The Family Stone stole  that morning, and came of age with a barnstorming performance from the psychedelic soul pioneers which is celebrated on Woodstock Sunday August 17, 1969, which was a welcome release on Record Store Day.

Sly and The Family Stone –Woodstock Sunday August 17, 1969-Record Store Day.

 

 

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