In August 1968, Barret Hanson – the musician and DJ best known as Dr. Demento – reviewed Life, Sly and the Family Stone's third album, for Rolling Stone. Here, he wrote, the band emerged as a "revolutionary force" and greatly improved on their 1967 debut, which had been released less than a year prior.
"The most adventurous soul music of 1968 is being put out by two groups who really aren't part of the mainstream R&B scene at all," Hanson argued. "Both the Chambers Brothers and Sly and the Family Stone are primarily black, but both have white members. And both spend more time on the white rock circuit than in the black clubs and theaters."
Two months later, Sly visited New York to play four shows over two days at one such primarily-rock venue: downtown's storied Fillmore East. Epic Records taped the performances for a potential live album, but that was put on hold when "Everyday People" went to Number One the following year. Now, the entire run is scheduled come out July 17th on Legacy Recordings, and below you can hear one of the most memorable tracks: the October 4th late show take on "Dance to the Music." When the band kicks in after the first scat break, they form loose mass of funk, each instrument swirling around and bouncing off the others.
"This performance is living breathing evidence of how much of a force of nature Sly and the Family Stone were at this point of their career," says the Roots guitarist Kirk Douglas, who helped trim the compilation for a vinyl release. "Every member of the group shines in a way that I can only describe as a revelation. It was enjoyable listening to the band break free from the studio arrangements of the songs we know and love to find new interpretations. And to think they did this twice in one evening!"
Sly and the Family Stone's Live at the Fillmore East October 4th & 5th 1968 can be pre-ordered here.