I was supposed to complete Wednesday’s lost swim early this morning but, yeah, that didn’t happen. I mean, the alarm went off but all that was really accomplished afterwards was my emptying my bladder and going back to bed. Hey, sometimes sleep is just more important. With that being said, I’m still keeping my plan of dropping HRH off at her ‘Kids Club’ this evening and hitting the heavy iron to burn off some of the pent up stress from this past work week. I’m also foregoing The Dandy Warhol’s theme I’ve started as of late – temporarily – and going with something a bit more funky, the ‘There’s A Riot Goin’ On‘ album by Sly & the Family Stone.
If you remember, I went through this huge George Clinton and Funkadelic phase last year, so I’m temporarily going back down that wewantthefunk pathway with this particular album. ‘There’s a Riot Goin’ On’ is the 5th studio album by Sly and the gang, released on November 20th, 1971, by Epic Records. It was recorded during 1970 and 1971 at Record Plant Studios in Sausalito, California and embraces a more sombre and funkier sound than the group’s previous so-called “psychedelic soul”, as featured on ‘Stand!’ (1969). Originally intended to be issued as ‘Africa Talks to You’, the record was retitled ‘There’s a Riot Goin’ On’ in response to Marvin Gaye’s landmark album ‘What’s Going On’ (1971), released five months earlier.
The album entered the Billboard Pop Album and Soul Album charts at #1 upon its release, while the album’s lead single, ‘Family Affair‘ (1971), topped the Pop Singles chart. The album is now praised as one of the greatest and most influential recordings, ranked at or near the top of many publications’ “Best Album” lists in disparate genres, including my own “Bible“, (Mojo, August 1995) which ranks it at #74. In 2003 it was ranked #99 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
At it’s most basic, the album could be thought of a two things, Sly Stone’s disgusted social commentary as well as the beginning of his own slow descent into addiction. What’s certain is that ‘Riot‘ is unlike any of Sly & the Family Stone’s other albums, stripped of the effervescence that flowed through even such politically aware records as ‘Stand!‘ This is idealism soured, as hope is slowly replaced by cynicism, joy by skepticism, enthusiasm by weariness, sex by pornography, thrills by narcotics. Sly’s songwriting remains remarkably sharp, but only when he wants to write – like the foreboding opener ‘Luv N’ Haight‘, the scarily resigned ‘Family Affair‘, the cracked cynical blues of ‘Time‘, and ‘(You Caught Me) Smilin‘. The rest? Meh. I’m not sure I wouldn’t include this on any of my “Greatest Ever” albums list, but it’s not a total loss either.
If anything, it was enough to pass an hour before HRH and I could make our way to our usual “Daddy-Daughter Date Night” location, The Sanctuary, for buttermilk fried chicken with artisan mashed potatoes, a charcuterie, and a few pints of the new ‘Feline Priest’ blood orange porter. Deeeee-lish!