Family Stand Leaves No Stone Unturned

*** THE FAMILY STAND "Moon in Scorpio" Atco/EastWest

Even if it weren't for the name, no one at all familiar with rock's past could miss the connection between this New York trio and the late-'60s' prime purveyors of socially conscious soul, Sly & the Family Stone. Each group's music is infused with so much personality that even the attitudes have an attitude. Like the Family Stone, the Family Stand misses almost as often as it hits, but at least the songs that don't work are never dull.

Peter Lord, V. Jeffrey Smith and Sandra St. Victor's ties to Paula Abdul are probably more widely recognized than their link with Sly Stone. The trio produced and wrote much of her most recent album, but apparently they saved the good stuff for themselves. The dense, meaty textures of their production anchor each track in its own style; practically every song is easily categorized and draws power from that clarity. The message is never muddled by ambiguity.

There's certainly no subtlety in "Plantation Radio," a not-afraid-to-name-names indictment of the color lines Top 40 stations allegedly draw in their programming. But if the album's first single, "New World Order," fails to dent the charts, it won't be because of any racial roadblocks. Hit radio seldom plays such searing funk-rock--the track features Living Colour's Vernon Reid on guitar--whether it's made by blacks or whites.

New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four (excellent).

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