Wednesday

Sly and the Family Stone

There's a Riot Goin' On - 1971

Somewhere following the massive success of Stand! and the comedown from Woodstock, Sly Stone lost it. Having released four albums in four years and subsequently achieving more adolation than he could have dreamed, the man holed himself up in his attic recording studio and began his descent into cocaine addition and the long journey towards creating the darkest record ever to reach #1 on the charts. Reeking of stoned decadence, Riot is a seductive brew of slurred vocals, leering electric pianos, messy guitars and primitive drum machines -- most of which were laid down by Sly himself. One of the explanations for the albums muddy production and warm blanket of tape hiss is that Sly would regularly invite groupies in to record background vocals, only to erase their tracks once they left in the morning. Despite the muck, this is one of the most carefully detailed albums ever recorded and a true joy to listen to through a set of headphones. Quite possibly my favorite record.

5 comments:

Cohen said...

Good headphones observation!

The yodelling song is one of the strangest things I've ever heard.

Keep 'em coming.

JBL said...

I have adored this album for years, yet it still doesn't get the deluxe reissue treatment it so clearly deserves. I want outtakes, alternates, everything!

JR HeatWarp said...

I hear ya JBL! I was able to get my hands on a nice German digipack remastered version of this album on Amazon, complete with the original flag cover and some period photos of the band. There were evidently some great liner notes to this original release, but sadly they're not included in mine. The folks at Columbia Legacy need to get their shit together and put out a definitive version of this much-loved release!

JBL said...

Well you know, one thing they might do should a reissue be in the works is clean it up too much. I only know the album via the Columbia "Nice Price" CD, which has, as you know, varying sound levels , tape hiss, punch-ins...in short, the seams of the recording process very much show. I have always thought it was about 60/40 intentional/unintentional.

A "perfect" reissue might end up ruining the album! Have you ever had a chance to compare your German CD to the standard domestic, to the original LP?

JR HeatWarp said...

Very true. If the album is every remastered for a domestic release, it could be easily ruined by someone who doesn't appreciate the unique "mistakes" that make this album so great. The version I've posted here is a 192K rip of the German version, which sounds identical to the other version I've heard, and makes me question what exactly was "remastered". Maybe they were referring to the cover art...? Germans...