20 November 2013

20th November - Sly and the Family Stone's There's a Riot Goin' On

Artist – Album: Sly & The Family Stone – There’s a Riot Goin’ On
Released: 20th November 1971
Sounds Like: The death of the Sixties

In 1967, Sly and the Family Stone partied, jamming to ‘Dance to the Music’. In 1968, Sly condemned racism on ‘Everyday People’, blissfully proclaiming “I love everyday people”. In 1969, they were having ‘Hot Fun in the Summertime’ and they wanted to ‘Take You Higher’. But then the milk soured; the drugs got harder; and the positive love-in of the Sixties gave way to the cynical, paranoid Seventies.

Like Daniel Plainview in the final acts of 2007’s There Will Be Blood, Sly may have set out with the best intentions but somehow all that he achieved changed him completely and he became depressed and mean. There’s a Riot Goin’ On is at once mesmerising and unpleasant; its twelve songs the equivalent of Sly beating you with a bowling pin and yelling “DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE!”

It’ is undoubtedly a tough listen, but, like There Will Be Blood, it rewards, especially on repeated listens. The singles ‘Family Affair’ and ‘Runnin’ Away’ barely passed as pop songs but they are proto-funk landmarks, and, whilst its difficult to pick out further songs for special mention, they all work together to create a dark, heavy, negative masterpiece.  

And now I want to watch There Will Be Blood again…

Albumaday... rating: 9/10

1.       Luv n’ Haight – 4:01
2.       Just Like a Baby – 5:12
3.       Poet – 3:01
4.       Family Affair – 3:06
5.       Africa Talks to You ‘The Asphalt Jungle’ – 8:45
6.       There’s a Riot Goin’ On – 0:00
7.       Brave & Strong – 3:28
8.       (You Caught Me) Smilin’ – 2:53
9.       Time – 3:03
10.   Spaced Cowboy – 3:57
11.   Runnin’ Away – 2:51
12.   Thank You for Talkin’ to Me Africa – 7:14

Listen to ‘Runnin’ Away: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQmCBOc8ICw

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