Sly & The Family Stone – There’s A Riot Going On – Reviewed in 2009

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There’s A Riot Going On

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This very nice looking Epic Demo LP sounds about as good as you could hope for from this famously compromised recording. Some tracks sound great and others don’t. It’s not a Demo Disc by any stretch but I can’t imagine it sounding much better than it does here; it’s tonally correct from top to bottom. Almost any remastering engineer is going to want to brighten this up, but believe me that will ruin it and turn it into the dry, grainy, transistory crap that labels like Sundazed and Get Back like to put out. The music is wonderful, of course, earning 5 big stars in the All Music Guide.

You just don’t see too many clean copies of this one around.

DJs and the like tend to snap them up as soon as they hit the bins. What’s a good party without a little Family Affair? 


AMG 5 Star Rave Review

And damn if this music isn’t funk at its deepest and most impenetrable — this is dense music, nearly impenetrable, but not from its deep grooves, but its utter weariness. Sly’s songwriting remains remarkably sharp, but only when he wants to write — the foreboding opener “Luv N’ Haight,” the scarily resigned “Family Affair,” the cracked cynical blues “Time,” and “(You Caught Me) Smilin’.” Ultimately, the music is the message, and while it’s dark music, it’s not alienating — it’s seductive despair, and that’s the scariest thing about it.