I Want to Take You Higher (4/12/69) #38 US, #24 RB
Sly & The Family Stone
“As a late 60s metaphor for hope, the only thing that topped Sly Stone's multi-ethnic, mixed-gender band was the music it produced” (Tyrangiel/ Light). “Stand! is the pinnacle of Sly & the Family Stone's early work, a record that represents a culmination of the group's musical vision and accomplishment. Life hinted at this record's boundless enthusiasm and blurred stylistic boundaries, yet everything simply gels here, resulting in no separation between the astounding funk, effervescent irresistible melodies, psychedelicized guitars, and deep rhythms” (Erlewine).
“Add to this a sharpened sense of pop songcraft, elastic band interplay, and a flowering of Sly's social conscious, and the result is utterly stunning. Yes, the jams (Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey, Sex Machine) wind up meandering ever so slightly, but they're surrounded by utter brilliance, from the rousing call to arms of Stand to the unification anthem Everyday People to the unstoppable I Want to Take You Higher” (Erlewine), both of which “were utopian anthems propelled by Larry Graham’s slap bass” (Tyrangiel/ Light). “Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey proved that Sly wasn't (yet) blind to contemporary reality” (Tyrangiel/ Light).
“All of it sounds like the Family Stone, thanks not just to the communal lead vocals but to the brilliant interplay, but each track is distinct, emphasizing a different side of their musical personality” (Erlewine). “The lyrics are rarely simplistic, the singing never less than spectacular, and each track has such an abundance of rhythm that standing still isn't a possibility” (Tyrangiel/ Light). As a result, Stand! winds up infectious and informative, invigorating and thought-provoking – stimulating in every sense of the word. Few records of its time touched it, and Sly topped it only by offering its opposite the next time out” (Erlewine).