Rolling Stone - 4/17/03, p.1095 stars out of 5
- "...The best funk band of the Sixties, mixing up sex, racial politics and an unstoppable groove....This masterly collection includes all the hits one would hope for..."
Spin - 5/03, p.113
"...One double CD with all the classics and plenty of hot also-rans..."
Uncut - 6/03, p.1184 stars out of 5
- "...The latest in a long line of anthologies of the group's work and is without doubt the best so far....Highly recommended..."
Personnel: Sylvester "Sly Stone" Stewart (vocals, guitar, keyboards); Freddie Stone (vocals, guitar); Jerry Martini (saxophone); Cynthia Robinson (trumpet); Rose Stone (keyboards); Greg Errico, Andy Newmark (drums).
Recording information: 1967-1975.
Photographers: Fred Lombardi; David Redfern.
For all the multi-cultural hippie freedom Sly and the Family Stone stood for in their pre-RIOT glory days, frontman Sly Stone was smart and talented enough to know that it was through catchy pop singles that his band's message would gain its widest dissemination. All 11 of Sly and the Family Stone's Top 40 hits are here (some of which, like "Hot Fun in the Summertime" and "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" were never on LPs back in the day), along with nearly every track from both of the band's career high point albums, 1969's STAND and 1971's THERE'S A RIOT GOIN' ON. Six cuts from 1973's FRESH represent that excellent, underrated album (and the sophisticated down-tempo funk Sly was pioneering in the early '70s). Overall, Sly and the Family Stone's signature sound, a mixture of infectious energy, ebullient melodic hooks, and heavy funk beats, was one of the most distinctive of its era, and went on to directly influence everyone from Miles Davis to Prince. Moreover, the music on ESSENTIAL is celebratory, superbly crafted, and deeply enduring. It provides a vibrant retrospective of one of the most important artists of the '60s and '70s.