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Title - 'The Collection: Box Set' (Epic / Legacy)
Artist - Sly & The Family Stone

If there were any riots goin' on, caused by the long delay Sly & The Family Stone fans had to endure prior to the issue of this box set, then things ought to settle down for a while! Album fans will love this set. The seven LPs are limited edition versions with bonus tracks included.

Singles fans will miss the non-LP cuts "Hot Fun In The Summertime", "Everybody Is A Star" and "Thank You (Falettin Me Be Mice Elf Agin)" that appear on the best-seller classic Greatest Hits LP (hopefully to be remastered and issued soon?). SATFS is my favorite recording artists of all time (as a kid I saw them in their wild costumes on TV during a Kraft Music Hall program in August 1968 and I felt spellbound!) so I made certain to get this set handed tome for review the day it first arrived here into the office!

In fact, it's going to take a bloody miracle to come up with a better music release than this one this year! Sly & the Family Stone's first seven groundbreaking albums, all available in rich, remastered sound (especially the completely revitalized "There's a Riot Goin' On"), with the original artwork and new liner notes as well. Nothing short of amazing!

There was no band like Sly and the Family Stone back when they debuted, and to date nobody's managed their magical blend of styles. Admittedly not every song was brilliant - "Run Run Run" is an uncomfortable amalgam of funky horns, rock riffs and blippy electric organ, none of which really manages to mesh. But that was the exception that proved the rule.

Their instrumentation was a big burst of scintillating energy - Sly himself provided a big chunk of it, playing soaring organ, piano, fuzz basslines, harmonica, and who knows what else. He was backed by a solid array of musicians who finished off the complex, dancy melodies -- sax, trumpet, more driving bass guitar, a shimmering psychedelic electric piano, and even a bit of violin.

And the lyrics were similarly energetic. Aside from wanting you to dance, they for an end to racism and hatred, and for people to embrace love and tolerance - all sung in Sly's slightly warbly blues voice, with other band members joining in. They obviously meant it, because somehow that belief filters on through to the listener - these messages don't make you sick.

Once you open your box, the individual Sony/Legacy LP discs are stored in modern digi-paks with the original Epic label LP artwork (front side and back side) reproduced and bonus photos and liner notes. Sony/Legacy had previously remastered and released the first four LPs on individual CDs a few years ago, so it's nice to finally have the final three available for the first time in the 21st century. Indeed, the seven remastered albums included are: 'Small Talk,' 'Dance To The Music,' ' There's A Riot Goin' On,' 'Life,' 'A Whole New Thing,' 'Stand!,' and 'Fresh.' Highly recommended!