[16 December 2009]
A refreshingly straightforward document of the band’s landmark 1969 Woodstock set, the record serves as a noteworthy addition to the rarefied pantheon of Live Albums That Emphatically Do Not Suck. Among the songs the Family Stone performed that August night in ’69 were “Sing a Simple Song”, “You Can Make It If You Try”, “Dance to the Music”, “Stand!” and, of course, “I Want to Take You Higher”. Noticeably, each title is either a command or else reminiscent of some ancient proverb. There’s a consistent spiritual element to the band’s central ethos; one that today’s more cynical audiences might consider played-out but regardless continues to be an inspirational force to upcoming musicians and open-minded listeners. As for Woodstock and its associated madness, music fans can and should make of it what they will. One thing’s for certain: While this particular concert-for-the-ages boasted performances both legendary and mind-altering, you sure as hell didn’t need LSD to get down with Sly & the Family Stone.