Collection: 4. Sly and the Family Stone - There’s a Riot Goin’ On

Taken along with the quick mudslide from Woodstock to Altamont, the drug deaths of Janis, Jim, and Jimi, and the piling bodies in Vietnam, Sly and the Family Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On is a telling indication that the utopian 1960s were really a bad trip. After four albums of uplift party plans on which Sly sang, “You can make it if you try,” his sing-alongs now went: “Look at you fooling you.” Sly and his rainbow-coalition band crumbled during these recordings, leaving him and a few of his drug buddies to lay tracks to a tape made thin from constant erasing and re-recording (the story going that Sly would lay groupies to tape, then lay the groupies, erasing their voices afterward). No one who was there quite remembers who played what, and to even further muddy the mud, it was wrapped up in a warped, alien American flag (what sort of stars are those?) and a messy photo collage of faces, bereft of credits.

All of There’s a Riot’s pleasure centers and nerve endings are frayed from coke, dope, flesh, flash, and, above all, disillusionment. Every single sound is weary, wasted, creaking, cracked, and sleep-deprived, like a somnambulant zombie stumbling through the graveyard of ideals on the pavement of good intentions. The singles (“Family Affair,” “Running Away”) exude a façade of empty positivity, a bitter resignation to the darker forces bubbling underneath. Chicken-scratch guitars claw at caskets, human drummers meld with undead drum machines, and frightened voices fissure with the crisp horn lines, yet it all sounds incredible, prescient. Listen to the paradoxical 0:00 of the title track, to how hip-hop took that stripped drum sound and furthered Sly’s bleak music, to how Miles got his groovebox back, to how the wasted Brits—from Primal Scream to Julian Cope—copped their dope from the grooves. Listen close, because there’s no way in hell a major label will ever again let out this much horrible truth. –Andy Beta / Pitchfork.com

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  • SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE - THERE'S A RIOT GOIN' ON (COLOURED) VINYL
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  • SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE - THERE'S A RIOT GOIN' ON VINYL
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