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Sly and the Family Stone: 20 Essential Songs

The best from the generation-defining funk-soul-rock legends

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6ix, "I'm Just Like You" (1970)

Sly and the Family Stone were supposed to follow the Greatest Hits anthology with a new studio album in 1970. Instead, Stone decided to postpone that recording while moving his base of operations to Los Angeles, the first of many decisions that began to fray relationships within the band. For the next year or so, Sly stayed in seclusion, frustrating bandmates, label reps and fans. Drugs and gnawing paranoia didn't help, but this "lost" period was also a fertile creative time for Stone as he tinkered with new toys, especially emergent drum machine technology. Beatboxes were still a novelty item then, nothing a serious musician would consider using as a studio instrument. But through Sly's own Stone Flower imprint, he began to explore its musical potential on the lone single by vocal group 6ix. In a rare contemporary interview for the liner notes of I'm Just Like You, a Stone Flower anthology, Sly told Alec Palao, "All instruments are real. Anything that can express your heart, it's an instrument, man." By 1971, those ideas would come into fuller fruition on the group's epochal There's a Riot Goin' On.

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