A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.
Both sides here had exceptionally good bass, and that earned it a lot of points in our shootout. The sound is punchy and full-bodied with excellent clarity. It’s also smooth, in the best tradition of analog from the early ’70s. This is the right sound for the music, no question about it.
What do the best Hot Stamper pressings give you?
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
If You Want Me To Stay
Let Me Have It All
Thankful N’ Thoughtful
Skin I’m In
I Don’t Know (Satisfaction)
Keep On Dancin’
Que Sera Sera (Whatever Will Be Will Be)
If It Were Left Up To Me
Babies Makin’ Babies
Fresh expands and brightens the slow grooves of There’s a Riot Goin’ On, turning them, for the most part, into friendly, welcoming rhythms. There are still traces of the narcotic haze of Riot, particularly on the brilliant, crawling inversion of “Que Sera, Sera,” yet this never feels like an invitation into a junkie’s lair.
Still, this isn’t necessarily lighter than Riot — in fact, his social commentary is more explicit, and while the music doesn’t telegraph his resignation the way Riot did, it comes from the same source. So, Fresh winds up more varied, musically and lyrically, which may not make it as unified, but it does result in more traditional funk that certainly is appealing in its own right.
Besides, this isn’t conventional funk — it’s eccentric, where even concise catchy tunes like “If You Want Me to Stay” seem as elastic as the opener, “In Time.” That’s the album’s ultimate charm — it finds Sly precisely at the point where he’s balancing funk and pop, about to fall into the brink, but creating an utterly individual album that wound up being his last masterwork and one of the great funk albums of its era.
Jazz legend Miles Davis was so impressed by the song “In Time” from the album that he made his band listen to the track repeatedly for a full 30 minutes.
Composer and music theorist Brian Eno cited Fresh as having heralded a shift in the history of recording, “where the rhythm instruments, particularly the bass drum and bass, suddenly [became] the important instruments in the mix.”
George Clinton, who has listed Fresh as one his favorite albums, later convinced the Red Hot Chili Peppers to cover “If You Want Me to Stay” on their second album, the Clinton-produced Freaky Styley.
In 2003, the album was ranked number 186 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.