Top Artists – Sly and the Family Stone

Sly and The Family Stone / Greatest Hits – Three Labels, But Only One Wins Shootouts

There are three Epic labels for this record. The originals are yellow, the first reissue is orange, and the last reissue is bluish black. I can tell you that only one of those labels produced the best sounding copies in our shootout.

Beyond that you will have to buy a sample of each and do your own shootout. Finding clean copies was quite difficult; it took us a long time to get enough to play, and, as we said, most pressings are dreadful. Those of you who like to read our commentaries and play along at home are going to have a rough time with this title. We sure did.

But the results are worth it, because we LOVE this music! Music just doesn’t get any better. If this album doesn’t lift your spirits, I can’t imagine what would. And note that many of the best songs here are exclusive to this greatest hits and cannot be found on any other album. That makes it a Must Own in our book.

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Reviews and Commentaries for Sly and the Family Stone

More Hot Stamper Pressings that Sound Better on the Right Reissue


FURTHER READING

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Other Important Lessons We’ve Learned from Record Experiments

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Sly & The Family Stone / There’s A Riot Going On – From the Analog Master!

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Sonic Grade: F

Ouch this record sounds bad. Some of the worst sound I have ever heard on Heavy Vinyl. The average cassette sounds better than this piece of crap.

My notes:

Side one: track one is thin and hard. Track two is not very tubey and the sibilance is harsh.

Side two: track two is full and tubey but track three shows that the sound may be tubey but it is very compressed.

But some people think that records that were made from the analog master tapes should sound good.  Especially those pressed on virgin vinyl.

What could possibly have gone wrong?

We have no idea. We just play the records and listen to them. We let them tell us if they are wrong or right.

This one told us it may have been made from good tapes — may have been, the good folks at Columbia records might be lying to us about that, it wouldn’t be the first time and I certainly would not put it past them — but it sure wasn’t made very well. (more…)

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.”

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Sly and The Family Stone – Fresh

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Fresh

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

Both sides here had exceptionally good bass, and that earned it a lot of points in our shootout. The sound is punchy and full-bodied with excellent clarity. It’s also smooth, in the best tradition of analog from the early ’70s. This is the right sound for the music, no question about it.   (more…)

Sly & The Family Stone / There’s A Riot Going On – Reviewed in 2009

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This very nice looking Epic Demo LP sounds about as good as you could hope for from this famously compromised recording. Some tracks sound great and others don’t. It’s not a Demo Disc by any stretch but I can’t imagine it sounding much better than it does here; it’s tonally correct from top to bottom.

Almost any remastering engineer is going to want to brighten this up, but believe me that will ruin it and turn it into the dry, grainy, transistory crap that labels like Sundazed and Get Back like to put out. T

he music is wonderful, of course, earning 5 big stars in the All Music Guide.

You just don’t see too many clean copies of this one around. DJs and the like tend to snap them up as soon as they hit the bins. What’s a good party without a little Family Affair? 


AMG 5 Star Rave Review

And damn if this music isn’t funk at its deepest and most impenetrable — this is dense music, nearly impenetrable, but not from its deep grooves, but its utter weariness. Sly’s songwriting remains remarkably sharp, but only when he wants to write — the foreboding opener “Luv N’ Haight,” the scarily resigned “Family Affair,” the cracked cynical blues “Time,” and “(You Caught Me) Smilin’.” Ultimately, the music is the message, and while it’s dark music, it’s not alienating — it’s seductive despair, and that’s the scariest thing about it.

Sly & The Family Stone – Life – Reviewed in 2008

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Life

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

EXCELLENT MUSIC AND SURPRISINGLY GOOD SOUND! We picked up this Epic Yellow Label Promo LP just for fun because someone here remembered liking this album back in the day. When we cleaned it up and dropped the needle on it, we couldn’t believe how CORRECT it sounded. It’s not going to ever make anyone’s SuperDisc list, but if you dig funky, energetic, soul music from the late ’60s, you can’t do much better than this record. It’s right up there with Sly’s next two albums, Stand! and There’s A Riot Goin’ On.

The sound is lively with wonderful presence. You can really hear the room around the handclaps and lots of ambience around the voices. The bottom end is tight and punchy — just what the doctor ordered for this kind of music. The electric guitars have a great, meaty texture that takes a song like Dynamite to new heights. There’s just a bit of congestion in the craziest parts of the songs, but overall there’s surprisingly low distortion here. The top end could use just a bit more extension, so add a click of treble to make the sound even better.  (more…)

Letter of the Week “I have often found myself listening to things on your albums that I never imagined would be captured on vinyl!”

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom, 

Please accept my apology. This email has been written in my head many times before now. However, life, and its many responsibilities have forced their own priority and delayed the composition of this message.

I have long been a skeptical person. My personality, and profession encourage skepticism. That skepticism was high when I first purchased a Ry Cooder album from you in 2014. Prior to that first purchase, I had been conducting research to discover what album pressings were likely to contain the best sound. I do not recall where I initially viewed your banner advertisement (possibly stevehoffman.tv, [not a chance!] or audiokarma.org? [maybe]). Either way, I clicked on the ad for your site and noticed a Ry Cooder album that I have always loved, and I took a chance. Boy was I surprised!

Since then I have purchased many albums from you, and I have been extremely happy with nearly all of them (even 95% accuracy is rare in the physical word, and you have easily achieved accuracy beyond that point). I have often found myself listening to things on your albums that I never imagined would be captured on vinyl!

Just as a side note, I want to thank you for including Sly Stone (a personal favorite), and War in your catalog of albums. Most audiophiles are not focused on those genres, but they are missing some interesting music. Thank you for your excellence!

Justin

Letter of the Week – “I played the ‘Party Out Of Bounds’ on their cost-no-object flagship system. It was spectacular!”  

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom, 

Yesterday, I attended an audio event at Audio Connection, in Verona, NJ (where I purchased my stereo).

I played the B-52s, Wild Planet, “Party Out Of Bounds”, on their cost-no-object flagship system.
It was spectacular!  

I played other titles that were also spectacular, such as Sly And The Family Stone’s “Dance To The Music” and The Cars’ “Good Times Roll” (all purchased from your store).

A couple of other pressings were very good, but not as impressive (Cat Stevens’ WHS, for example). And my WHS of ELP’s “Take A Pebble” had a fair amount of sibilance (a song I had not previously played). But overall, a wonderfully musical experience.

Great job unearthing / identifying these gems! (more…)