Sly and the Family Stone – Dance to the Music

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  • Dance to the Music makes its debut on the site, with KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound and reasonably quiet vinyl
  • This early Epic Yellow label pressing blew them all out of the water – the hit “Dance to the Music” sounds better here than we have ever heard it – who knew?
  • “This is exuberant music, bursting with joy and invention. Consider this — prior to this record no one, not even the Family Stone, treated soul as a psychedelic sun splash, filled with bright melodies, kaleidoscopic arrangements, inextricably intertwined interplay, and deft, fast rhythms.”

This vintage Epic original pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What amazing sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1968
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Choruses Are Key

Watch out for too many instruments and voices jammed into too little space in the upper midrange. When the tonality is shifted-up, even slightly, or there is too much compression or distortion, there will be too many upper midrange elements — voices, guitars, drums — vying for space, resulting in congestion and a loss of clarity.

With the more solid sounding copies, the lower mids are full and rich. Above them, the next “level up” so to speak, there’s plenty of space in which to fit all the instruments and voices comfortably, without piling them on top of one another as so often happens. Consequently, the upper midrange “space” does not get overwhelmed with musical information.

The highest quality equipment, on the hottest Hot Stamper copies, will play the loudest and most difficult-to-reproduce passages with virtually no edge, grit or grain, even at very loud levels. And that’s when playing a record that sounds as good as this one does is a THRILL.

What We’re Listening For on Dance to the Music

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Dance to the Music
Higher
I Ain’t Got Nobody (For Real)
Dance to the Medley:

  • Music Is Alive
  • Dance In
  • Music Lover

Side Two

Ride the Rhythm
Color Me True
Are You Ready
Don’t Burn Baby
I’ll Never Fall In Love Again

AMG  Review

Sly & the Family Stone came into their own with their second album, Dance to the Music. This is exuberant music, bursting with joy and invention. If there’s a shortage of classic material, with only the title track being a genuine classic, that winds up being nearly incidental, since it’s so easy to get sucked into the freewheeling spirit and cavalier virtuosity of the group.

Consider this — prior to this record no one, not even the Family Stone, treated soul as a psychedelic sun splash, filled with bright melodies, kaleidoscopic arrangements, inextricably intertwined interplay, and deft, fast rhythms. Yes, they wound up turning “Higher” into the better “I Want to Take You Higher” and they recycle the title track in the long jam “Dance to the Medley,” but there’s such imagination to this jam that the similarities fade as they play. And, if these are just vamps, well, so are James Brown’s records, and those didn’t have the vitality or friendliness of this.

Not a perfect record, but a fine one all the same.

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