My Ten All Time Favorite Albums: #8 "There's a Riot Going On" [Sly & the Family Stone]

"This is from an online FB music challenge where we were asked to list our 10 favorite albums for ten days. "There's a Riot Going On" was one of mine. Listing the title & group was not enough. I had to go into detail."   

Day 8 of 10 [10 days, 10 All Time Favorite Albums].

Oh, how I have waited to get to this one! I was going to save it for 10 but it's calling me. I had to decide between this or Sly & the Family Stone's "Stand" album. It was tough. Here's why Riot won out. The first time I heard "Family Affair" I was 11 and at Gina Serrant' party. I was dancing up a storm, precociously, and by myself. The song meant nothing and didn't generate curiousity. But it was the only song I remembered from all the songs played that night on the "record player." Two years later, I heard "If You want Me To Stay." The bass pulled me in. Then I wanted to know everything. When I finally heard "Riot" my reaction was "What??" I assumed that Larry must have been enhanced somehow because the bass was meandering and at times slightly out of tune. Then I put it to rest, for a long time. Oh, to be young and half full. But as I grew and knew more about myself, then so did my interest and understanding for this album. Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone", Laura Nyro's "Stoned Soul Picnic", and lyrics by Jimi Hendrix taught me that songwriting wasn't easy and just some hobby. It needed the commitment of the mind and memory & imagination & foresight. So when I read the lyrics to the Riot album I realized that this isn't just the rambling's of someone who had lost their way. This person WAS showing us the way. How did he [Sly] match the sounds to those words? So many are familiar with "Blood's thicker than mud." But there is also "Look at you fooling you." By '93, I came to accept the thudding sound of the opening of "Luv & Haight" and the dullness of bass & kick and the muddiness of background vocals, etc. I walked through the East Village with the songs pumping in my head and I swear I felt like it gave me my own pimp walk or stride. I discovered that funk is dirty and truly greasey. "Just Like a Baby" was perfect for me as I was feeling quite fetal during this time. And by the way, how many artists can take their #1 Billboard pop hit, a funk song that reinvented funk, and cover it themselves, making it a Hyde version and reinventing the previous funk with this yet another new funk? Oh well, I can't list my feelings about every single song because then it becomes a review; one that I would be happy to share anyway but, another time. But check this. I have heard this album a million times [some of my friends can verify this] and I still haven't reached the bottom of it. I'm always hearing something new or receiving yet another inspirational direction to go in with my own music. The one thing tho' that I should mention is that this is probably the first album with a silent track. The title of the album "There's A Riot Going On" was listed as a song at the end of side one. The time stamp was 0:00. There was no song. After becoming one with this record, many times, I couldn't help but imagine what a song with that title would've sounded like had they recorded it. My consumption of that wish got way too big for me. As a result, I composed and recorded a track with that title [kind of] to satisfy that void. I wrote it with a secured and assured feeling that "this is what it would've sounded like." I became all seven players. That's what this album has meant to me. It is not easy to put or paint your feelings or troubles within a song, much less an album of songs, and reach tons of people with their own inner RIOT going on. Sly Stone captured 1971. RIOT scrapes the gunk from the gutters. Imagine where the street meets the curb, with water carrying bits of paper, gum wrappings, cigarette butts, spit, and things that turn into a film of sludge. Then imagine that you have to scrape that up with a piece of cardboard, in New York City, of any past decade. That's this album. The GUNK of FUNK. No one else since has had that kind of gunk. There are many days when I felt gunky, and this album was the perfect soundtrack for those days, or those years gone by. I have no problems cleaning my own gunk, as long as this album exists. My own father had me cleaning gunk as one of my chores. So ,.. oh yeah, that's why this album for me, won out over "Stand." 

- Deacon DIGG

Orig' written: May 25th 2018

Album cover of Sly & the Family Stone's There's a Riot Going On. Copyright owners: Sony Entertainment. I do not own the copyrights.

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