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Rock Hall Anniversary: Sly and the Family Stone’s Stand

One of the greatest funk/soul albums of all time reaches its 45th year. It was an album that was not only an artistic landmark, but one that spawned songs that would become anthems to the political and social climates of the times and beyond.

The album is Stand from Sly and the Family Stone. Released in May 1969, it was the band’s breakthrough album after their first three albums were commercially unsuccessful (despite yielding a top ten single with “Dance to the Music”). It reached the top twenty on the Billboard 200 and went on to sell over three million copies. The breakout single “Everyday People” became the band’s first number one single, as well as an anthem for racial and social harmony.

In speaking of social commentary, Stand revolved around that concept, as the majority of the track list contained message songs including the title track, “Sing a Simple Song” and “You Can Make It If You Try”. However, one track that wasn’t a message song, but was one of the most notable on the album (perhaps next to “Everyday People”) was “I Want to Take You Higher”. Along with a classic performance at Woodstock, the song would yield many famous covers from other artists including the Jackson 5, Duran Duran, and most famously Ike and Tina Turner.

The legacy of Sly and the Family Stone’s Stand would include a ranking as one of the top 200 greatest albums of all time by Rolling Stone, and the magazine ranking “Everyday People” as one of the top 200 greatest songs of all time. It is one of the most sampled or covered albums in music history with artists including Aretha Franklin, Pearl Jam, TLC, and L.L. Cool J either recording versions of one of the songs, or sampling its parts (including sounds from drummer Gregg Errico). It was twice reissued, including 2007, when it was remastered as a digipack CD with bonus tracks.