Sunday, July 3, 2016

Sly & The Family Stone - Runnin' Away

This album is so important. Just fucking nuts, really, and for a few reasons.

There's a Riot Goin' On, 1971. Music receives a shock from time to time. Back in the late 1940s, some 'Bird cut trashed the old world. It's an old story. Louis had been there; Duke, too. I'll never forget the first time my friends and I heard Jimi Hendrix (Purple Haze b/w The Wind Cries Mary; we flipped). Sometimes you just know that the entire world has changed in a minute, just by listening. This Sly album was that kind of experience for me.

Sly and the Family Stone had had a bunch of hits for four years already when Riot came out. They were a ground-breaking act; men and women in the band, black and white together. And they had great enthusiasm and great material, and, of course, they could really play. Larry Graham, Greg Erico. I loved them; I wore those records out. Riot was something really new, though. All of my friends liked the old hits (well, somewhere on a scale of like to love). Only a few of them got (dug) Riot. Some of them actively disliked it. That's what happens when shit is too new.

But boy, didn't Riot go on to become one of the most influential records of them all? Ten years; twenty years; thirty years; forty years; there's lots of Riot clones out there.

Another exciting thing about Riot is that it proves something about cocaine. No, not that cocaine is for horses, although that's probably true too. The truth is that cocaine might be good for you, creatively or otherwise, it might, but even if it is, it will only be good for you for a very limited amount of time. Like one year, or eighteen months, tops. After that, you're hiding in your closet waiting for the boogie man, and the well runs dry. Then your money runs out and everything turns to shit in a big hurry.

So, to recap: Yes, listen to There's a Riot Goin' On frequently; and no, don't ever fall into the cocaine trap, or any of the other drug traps that are out there. Man, I can't even keep up any more. (And neither can the cops, or the consumers! It's a designer zoo out there!)


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