D is for "Dance To The Music", by Sly & The Family Stone
Like Funkadelic, I guess Sly & The Family Stone act as a gateway funk band for rock orientated teenagers - they've been fulfilling that role ever since their show-stealing performance at Woodstock 40 years ago, when they got thousands of peacenik long-hairs up on their feet and grooving in the mud. The footage of the Family Stone at that concert is simply mind-boggling; a firestorm of full-throttle funk. Takes no prisoners. KICKS. ALMIGHTY. ASS.
The Family Stone were the first "cross-over" act; their music an explosive cocktail of white rock and black soul - but, unlike so much (good & bad) soul-does-psyche experiments, there is nothing remotely self-conscious, artificial or exploitative about this fusion. I love a lot of psychedelic soul, but even the very best stuff, at least the commercially successful stuff, (Norman Whitfield-era Temptations, say) has some element of "lets give this whole hippy thing a go". (To be fair, that's often a big part of it's charm.) But The Family Stone's sound works because it's totally natural, and, crucially, it was their idea first. And it wasn't just their sound that was "integrated". Consisting of men and women, white folks and black folks, The Family Stone lived the Woodstock Nation ideal of interracial, inter-gender harmony, where so many others just talked a good game.
Dance To The Music, their break-out hit, is an example of how a big single can be used by a band as a calling card, a statement of intent - everything you need to know about the Family Stone philosophy is here. The phrase "melting pot of influences" is a cliche, but it applies perfectly here - it is a bubbling gumbo of Doo-Wop, Motown pop, and fuzzed-acid rock. It has one of the all time great first lines - the exhortation to "Get up - and dance to the music!" is impossible to refuse, and I dig how it makes their music The Music, the definite article, the only music that matters. From thereon, it's just your regular arrangement of accapella doo-wop, drum solos, fuzz bass solos, about five different vocalists, introductions to the band members, and an instruction for "squares" to leave. Dance To The Music: the sound of somebody spiking King Curtis's Memphis Soul Stew with LSD.