Get ready to dance to the music, you everyday people – in March, Sony is rereleasing Sly and the Family Stone’s 3 early albums: “Life”, “A Whole New Thing” and “Dance to the Music”. And why should we care, you ask?

Picture this: a slow pan across a silent room in the bottom of the library…there’s the microfilm… there’s the microfiche…and then there’s me. Seated. Headphones on. Playing air keyboards like Fats Domino on fast forward. “But I can’t help it”, I whine to the librarian, “It’s Sly and the Family Stone!” (cut to your humble narrator landing on her CD on the sidewalk.)

Granted, they weren’t the biggest or best known band ever (admit it, you don’t know Sly Stone from Sly Stallone – but trust me, there’s a difference), but if you like funk or hip hop, you owe Sly a big thank you. His distinct rock improv style fused with his multi-layered high energy rhythms were the inspiration for many of today’s leading artists. While “Dance to the Music” is probably the strongest album of the three (my personal favorite is the track “Higher”), all three are worth a listen if you’re interested in hearing exactly who all these pop posers are ripping off.

Perhaps an antithesis to Sly and the Family Stone is Love. Sly is tribal and joyous. Love is, well, “Sitting on a hillside watching all the people die.” Okay, maybe that lyric from “The Red Telephone” makes them sound a little like Eeyore, but their music is not for Poohs and Piglets. These guys were the omen to Jimi Hendrix’s sound, particularly in their best known song “7 and 7 is.” Their controlled, multi-layered sound is like a brooding consciousness unto itself . The dissonant acoustic guitars, the weeping electric, the yearning strings and questioning bass marry with their philosophical lyrics to form music that leaves you as both rested and exhausted as a beautiful enigmatic dream. Check out Rhino’s “Best of Love” this month and get in touch with those dreams.

On another note (all puns intended, folks) … like Tool? Like Nine Inch Nails? Do you know who Robert Fripp is? If you can’t get that third one right I’ll bet you the members of those first two bands can. Robert Fripp, founding member of King Crimson inspired tons of today’s rock artists with King Crimson’s thundering, vivid sound. Perhaps a counterpart to Pink Floyd (for the record, their rock epic “In the Court of the Crimson King” (1969) is worth checking out if you enjoy “Dark Side of the Moon”), they’ve been around for the last four decades, aging their sound with as much care as a wine connoisseur for his wine. Their newest offering, “The Power to Believe”, promises nothing more than their usual perfection. The sound this time around is a bit more mainstream, but mainstream for them would still probably give Trent Reznor something to think about.

What do Bob Dylan, U2, the Indigo Girls, and just about any other musician with a message have in common? Woody Guthrie. Although some of his recordings were made so early it sounds like the studio was under water, Guthrie was arguably the first man who sang out from California to the New York Island, from the Redwood forest, to the Gulf Stream water … you know where I’m going. You can hear his influence everywhere, from the joyful proclaimation of “This Land is Your Land” to the politics behind “Tom Joad,” Guthrie’s words were the beginning of folk as we know it today. His new compiliation album out in mid-March is a nice attestment to that fact.

And finally, The Beatles are releasing “The Beatles Anthology” on DVD late this month. The five disc set includes the documentary that aired on TV in 1996, as well as bonus material like Paul, George and Ringo’s jam sessions that were previously unreleased. I could go on and plug this some more, but do I really need to? Dude, it’s the Beatles!

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