Song of the Day: Sly and the Family Stone, “Family Affair”

Sly and the Family Stone, led by frontman Sly Stone, is one of the most important groups in American music history, both musically and politically speaking. From the mid-’60s to the early ’80s, they were pivotal in the development of rock, funk and soul, and also became the first mainstream rock band with a racially integrated male and female lineup. During their years of activity, they released a number of seminal recordings. Among them, There’s a Riot Goin’ On from 1971, which marked a shift in their blend of psychedelic soul and funk.

For example, its hit single, “Family Affair,” was unlike many of the band’s earlier recordings, featuring a more prominent focus on keyboards, while Sly Stone’s vocals are delivered in a much lower tone than before. Critics were initially caught off-guard by the transition but soon learned to praise it. Indeed, “Family Affair” represents Sly and the Family Stone’s penchant for experimentation and innovation, the kind that would be heard in the burgeoning jazz fusion scene of time, including on Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters (1973) and Miles Davis’ On the Corner (1972).

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