When I was in sixth grade, Tag Team's "Whoomp, There It Is" came out. My dad, who never really made a fuss about my music (MC Hammer, C&C Music Factory, etc.), heard me listening to the tape single and got ticked off because the song ripped off Sly and the Family Stone, a group I'd never heard of.
He put Sly's "I Want To Take You Higher" on the record player, and I heard how its "boom-lak-a-lak-a" sounded just like the "whoomp-lak-a-lak-a," but I was 12 and I was feeling defensive, so I really didn't like it and I totally didn't get it.
As I grew up and became more of a music fan, I realized the band's brilliance and importance, but when Sly came out of hiding to appear on last year's Grammys, I wondered if most people had the same reaction I did when I was 12: I don't get it.
After a ton of build-up, out came a legend sporting a Mohawk and a Homer Simpson gut. He played some keyboard with a band of "all-stars" that only the Grammys could put together, and left he before the song even ended. It was an awkward letdown.
Today, anyone who "didn't get it" gets a chance to discover one of music's true pioneers. The Sly and the Family Stone albums are being released today with the remastering/extra tracks treatment.
Albums like "Stand" and "Dance to the Music" didn't just advance funk and pop, the multi-cultural band's music advanced race, politics and culture. A million better words have already been written about the band, so I will just suggest checking out the MP3s below and one of the remastered albums. The Greatest Hits album is also a great bet.
Happy Sly and the Family Stone Appreciation Day.
Sly and the Family Stone — I Wanna Take You Higher (MP3)
Sly and the Family Stone — Dance to the Music (MP3)
Sly and the Family Stone — M'lady (MP3)