Sly and the Family Stone: 20 Essential Songs

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

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"Can't Strain My Brain" (1974)

The most damning-with-faint-praise for Small Talk, Sly and the Family Stone's final group album of the 1970s, may have come in Billboard's July 1974 review where an uncredited critic offers "not really much new in the way of presentation… but… there really is no need for a successful star to have to come up with something new on each LP." They weren't wrong: Small Talk mostly retread the same stylings, but the formula still had legs, especially on the tightly wound "Can't Strain My Brain," one of many Sly songs of the era where he hinted at his gradually loosening grip on reality.

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