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Higher!

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Review

At the peak of their career, Sly & the Family Stone topped the charts with a Greatest Hits album -- in 1970, it was their first LP to crack the Billboard Top 200, peaking at number two; an argument could be made that it was the LP that cemented their stardom -- and over the years, they've been anthologized many times, almost each compilation worthwhile, but they've never been subjected to a comprehensive box set until Legacy's 2013 four-disc set Higher! (A 2007 box called The Collection doesn't count, as it just rounded up the expanded remasters of the group's Epic catalog.) Higher! succeeds because it performs a task many box sets do not: it tells a story. Placing an emphasis on narrative, sometimes achieved through rarities, does mean that there are some omissions here: "Fun," "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey," studio versions of "Stand" and "You Can Make It If You Try," "Just Like a Baby," "Babies Making Babies," and the 1975 version of "I Get High on You" are all absent, but as the box plays, they're not missed, as the story that is told is compelling. Higher! takes its time to get to Sly & the Family Stone's streak of hit singles -- the second disc is a quarter finished by the time "Dance to the Music," the group's first genuine hit, surfaces -- but it never drags. If anything, the early material -- including five sides Sly Stone, then performing under his given name Sylvester Stewart, recorded for Autumn in 1964 and 1965, plus the 1967 single for Loadstone, "I Ain't Got Nobody (For Real)"/"I Can't Turn You Loose" -- is instrumental in laying the foundation for what came later, as they reveal Sly's deep roots in R&B, doo wop, pop, and rock & roll, sounds he spliced together when he formed the Family Stone in 1967. Remarkably, the other rarities are equally illuminating, whether it's a clutch of terrific unreleased songs from 1967 (such stellar cuts as "What's That Got to Do with Me" and "Only One Way Out of This Mess" kick off the second disc), scorching live performances from the Isle of Wight in 1970, or the oddity "Small Fries," from the band's alter ego the French Fries, where Sly's sped-up, helium-addled voice is a clear predecessor to Prince's impish mischief. These are grace notes to the band's enormous legacy, a legacy that is clearly on display throughout Higher!, whether it's heard on exuberant hits that are pop staples to this day, rhythms that were heavily sampled during the golden age of hip-hop, or a vibrant blurring of boundaries that still sounds visionary. It's that depth of detail, combined with the masterful sequencing, that makes Higher! such a superb box set: it tells a familiar story in a fresh fashion. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 I Just Learned How to Swim Sly & The Family Stone 2:27
  3. 2 Scat Swim Sly & The Family Stone 2:24
  4. 3 Buttermilk, Pt. 1 Sly Stone 2:8
  5. 4 Dance All Night Sly & The Family Stone 2:52
  6. 5 Temptation Walk, Pt. 1 Sly & The Family Stone 2:22
  7. 6 I Ain't Got Nobody (For Real) Sly & The Family Stone 2:52
  8. 7 I Can't Turn You Loose Sly & The Family Stone 3:25
  9. 8 Higher Sly & The Family Stone 2:51
  10. 9 Underdog Sly & The Family Stone 3:3
  11. 10 Bad Risk Sly & The Family Stone 3:1
  12. 11 Let Me Hear It from You Sly & The Family Stone 3:26
  13. 12 Advice Sly & The Family Stone 2:20
  14. 13 If This Room Could Talk Sly & The Family Stone 3:10
  15. 14 I Cannot Make It Sly & The Family Stone 3:14
  16. 15 Trip to Your Heart Sly & The Family Stone 2:30
  17. 16 I Hate to Love Her Sly & The Family Stone 3:28
  18. 17 Silent Communication Sly & The Family Stone 4:17
  19. 18 I Get High on You [Version One] Sly & The Family Stone 5:50
  20. 19 I Remember Sly & The Family Stone 5:22
  21. 20 My Woman's Head [Instrumental] Sly & The Family Stone 2:44
  22. 1 What's That Got to Do with Me Sly & The Family Stone 3:5
  23. 2 Fortune and Fame Sly & The Family Stone 5:34
  24. 3 What Would I Do Sly & The Family Stone 4:3
  25. 4 Only One Way Out of This Mess Sly & The Family Stone 3:50
  26. 5 I Know What You Came to Say Sly & The Family Stone 5:31
  27. 6 Dance to the Music Sly & The Family Stone 2:56
  28. 7 Ride the Rhythm Sly & The Family Stone 2:44
  29. 8 Color Me True Sly & The Family Stone 3:6
  30. 9 Are You Ready Sly & The Family Stone 2:47
  31. 10 Don't Burn Baby Sly & The Family Stone 3:11
  32. 11 We Love All Sly & The Family Stone 4:28
  33. 12 Danse a la Musique Sly & The Family Stone 3:2
  34. 13 Small Fries Sly & The Family Stone 2:47
  35. 14 Chicken Sly & The Family Stone 2:10
  36. 15 Into My Own Thing Sly & The Family Stone 2:11
  37. 16 Life Sly & The Family Stone 2:57
  38. 17 Love City Sly & The Family Stone 2:38
  39. 18 M'lady Sly & The Family Stone 2:41
  40. 19 Dynamite! Sly & The Family Stone 2:44
  41. 20 Undercat [Instrumental] Sly & The Family Stone 3:48
  42. 1 Everyday People Sly & The Family Stone 2:18
  43. 2 Sing a Simple Song Sly & The Family Stone 3:3
  44. 3 I Get High on You [Version Two] Sly & The Family Stone 4:10
  45. 4 Wonderful World of Color [Instrumental] Sly & The Family Stone 4:58
  46. 5 Pressure Sly & The Family Stone 3:43
  47. 6 I Want to Take You Higher Sly & The Family Stone 2:59
  48. 7 Seven More Days Sly & The Family Stone 3:22
  49. 8 Feathers [Instrumental] Sly & The Family Stone 2:27
  50. 9 Somebody's Watching You Sly & The Family Stone 3:19
  51. 10 Sex Machine Sly & The Family Stone 13:44
  52. 11 Hot Fun in the Summertime Sly & The Family Stone 2:36
  53. 12 Everybody Is a Star Sly & The Family Stone 3:0
  54. 13 Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) Sly & The Family Stone 4:46
  55. 14 Stand! [Live from the Isle of Wight Festival] Sly & The Family Stone 5:8
  56. 15 You Can Make It If You Try [Live from the Isle of Wight Festival] Sly & The Family Stone 6:3
  57. 16 Dance to the Music [Live from the Isle of Wight Festival] Sly & The Family Stone 5:2
  58. 17 Medley: Music Lover/I Want to Take You Higher/Music Lover [Live from the Isle of Wight Festival] Sly & The Family Stone 6:15
  59. 1 Luv N' Haight Sly & The Family Stone 4:0
  60. 2 Family Affair Sly & The Family Stone 3:3
  61. 3 Brave & Strong Sly & The Family Stone 3:31
  62. 4 Runnin' Away Sly & The Family Stone 2:39
  63. 5 (You Caught Me) Smilin' Sly & The Family Stone 2:52
  64. 6 Spaced Cowboy Sly & The Family Stone 3:57
  65. 7 You're the One Sly & The Family Stone 6:25
  66. 8 In Time Sly & The Family Stone 5:45
  67. 9 If You Want Me to Stay Sly & The Family Stone 2:58
  68. 10 Frisky Sly & The Family Stone 3:9
  69. 11 Skin I'm In Sly & The Family Stone 2:51
  70. 12 If It Were Left Up to Me Sly & The Family Stone 1:57
  71. 13 Time for Livin' Sly & The Family Stone 3:13
  72. 14 Can't Strain My Brain Sly & The Family Stone 4:4
  73. 15 Loose Booty Sly & The Family Stone 3:43
  74. 16 Le Lo Li Sly & The Family Stone 3:14
  75. 17 Crossword Puzzle Sly & The Family Stone 2:53
  76. 18 Family Again Sly & The Family Stone 2:45
  77. 19 Hoboken Sly & The Family Stone 3:18
  78. 20 High Sly & The Family Stone 5:6

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