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Higher charts the years when it all went right for Sly Stone, before the great funk/soul bandleader tailed off into drug addiction, penury and reclusion.

The 77 songs (17 previously unreleased) are ordered chronologically, opening with Stone’s teenage forays into rock and roll and R&B (“Dance All Night” with his brother Freddie is a blast). Then Sly and the Family Stone are up and running, moving from James Brown-style proto-funk to psychedelic experimentation. A trio of classics at the Isle of Wight festival in 1970 (“Stand”, “You Can Make It If You Try”, “Dance to the Music”) find the band at their peak, a controlled chaos of soul, funk and rock, both intense and free-spirited.

The last track, an unreleased 1975 number called “High”, alludes to the habits that would finally poleaxe Stone – but its captivating groove ends the four-CD set on the right kind of high.

Sly and Family Stone

Higher

(Epic/Legacy)

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