Sly and the Family Stone: 20 Essential Songs

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

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"Dance to the Music" (1968)

The Sly Stone song most likely to be heard on a 1980s "as advertised on TV" compilation, "Dance to the Music," netted the group their first Top 10 hit by the spring of 1968. Recorded under the insistent direction of Clive Davis, the single's ebullient, infectious energy helped cover for the fact that, lyrically, it's little more than the band narrating what instruments they're about to fold into the groove: drums, then guitar, bass, etc. Within the group, the song and same-titled album was met with mixed emotions. Saxophonist Jerry Martini, speaking to oral historian Joel Selvin, insisted, "It was so unhip to us. The beats were glorified Motown. We did the formula thing." However, engineer Don Pulese, quoted by journalist Miles Marshall Lewis, claims that Sly himself once said of the single, "that's the best bass and drum sounds I've ever got."

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