Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

5. Sly & The Family StoneThere’s A Riot Goin’ On

There’s A Riot Goin’ On is an abstract, nihilistic, urban death funk record. Sly documents the times better than anybody – 1971: the whole civil rights movement has been crushed by the murders of Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy and the whole American state dismantled the Black Panther party. Sly Stone documents the dread and the suffocation of those times. His music before that was transcendent and joyous with stuff like ‘Everyday People’, which was basically life-affirming music. Then from about 1969, ’70, he starts to become darker with these new funk sounds. Even the hit single from the record, ‘Family Affair’, is dark. He would have never written that four years prior. It was like the utopian idealism of the ’60s had gone and America was almost at war with itself. But Sly never made this a political record – his aim was to put the American flag on the cover with no writing on it. The lyrics were internalised, it was kind of like a closed-off, looking-inward record. There’s no reverb on this record and it’s completely dry. There’s no real joy in the record.

Selected in other Baker’s Dozens: Adam Green, LCD Soundsystem, Alexis Taylor, Mike Watt, Yo La Tengo
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