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Boxed set celebrates Sly and the Family Stone

| Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

‘Higher!'

Sly & the Family Stone (Epic Legacy)

★★★★½

Funk icon Sly Stone turned 70 this year — a surprise to many who thought his well-publicized battles with drug addiction might claim his life — and his music is being celebrated with the masterful new four-disc box set “Higher.” Though Sly & the Family Stone were elected to the Rock & Hall of Fame in 1993, this is the first-ever career-spanning anthology. It includes 77 tracks — 17 of them previously unreleased — and follows Sly from his mid-'60s solo recordings through the Family Stone's creative heyday (1968-71) and on to their drug-fueled decline.

All the expected tunes are here — “Dance to the Music,” “Everyday People,” “I Want to Take You Higher,” “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again),” “Family Affair” —but what sets “Higher” apart are lesser-known tunes like “I Ain't Got Nobody (For Real),” “I Cannot Make It,” “Color Me True,” “Somebody's Watching You” and “Skin I'm In.” Of the unreleased material, “I Remember,” the instrumental “Undercat,” a live medley and “Hoboken” are the standouts. This is a fitting tribute to one of the masters of funk.

Jeffrey Sisk is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1952, or jsisk@tribweb.com.

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