Another thing that struck me after listening to the albums straight through for the first time in years is that they're far patchier than I remembered. Hits aside, only two discs really hold up as albums. One is 1969's Stand!, in which Sly perfected his trademark synthesis of soul, psychedelic rock/pop, and pointed-but-not-preachy social comment. The other is Riot, the album that still stands with the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main St. as the definitive portrait of the precise moment when countercultural optimism finally curdled into '70s cynicism (and hard drugs). As for the two albums that followed - Fresh and 1974's sad Small Talk - they're occasionally amusing trifles at best.
The third thing you should know is that all of these reissues - both the Collection and the individual titles - are limited-edition releases. Once they're sold, they're gone (except for downloading, of course). That goes for the coming Greatest Hits, too. You have been warned.
And now for Sly Stone, as the poet says, the rest is silence. We can only hope that those press reports about his newfound peace are in fact true. Considering the sheer unalloyed joy that a lot of the music here has given to (and continues to give to) countless everyday people, Lord knows he deserves a little final-act happiness.
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