1973, Music

Fresh (1973) by Sly and the Family Stone

I don’t know enough about the history of Sly and the Family Stone to know whether or not There’s a Riot Goin’ On was something sustainable on an emotional level – I suspect it wasn’t – or a commercial level. But this record feels like a major step… not back, exactly, but to the side, or at least very much away from the previous record, one of the best records of the 1970s.

It feels that way for many reasons:

  • The music sounds less sophisticated and more traditionally funky than that record.
  • The lyrics of the original songs are (mostly) not as topical as that record, or at least not directly topical as the previous record. There are even some lyrics that directly quote old Family Stone songs. (These callbacks are perhaps the clearest indication that there is some kind of concerted effort to move on from or away from Riot.)
  • And the production is considerably cleaner, with more in common with the ’60s version of the band, or some contemporary funk bands in the ’70s.

This is a pretty good funk record, with catchy enough melodies and a really strong groove on most of the tracks. But it pales in comparison to its predecessor, a success which probably couldn’t have been duplicated anyway.

All songs written, produced and arranged by Sly Stone, except where noted.

  1. “In Time” – 5:48
  2. “If You Want Me to Stay” – 3:01
  3. “Let Me Have It All” – 2:56
  4. “Frisky – 3:12
  5. “Thankful N’ Thoughtful” – 4:41
  6. “Skin I’m In” – 2:55
  7. “I Don’t Know (Satisfaction)” – 3:51
  8. “Keep on Dancin'” – 2:23
  9. “Qué Será, Será (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” (Ray Evans, Jay Livingston) – 5:23
  10. “If It Were Left Up to Me” – 1:56
  11. “Babies Makin’ Babies” – 3:38
  • Sly Stone – vocals, organ, guitar, bass guitar, piano, harmonica, and more
  • Freddie Stone – vocals, guitar
  • Rose Stone – vocals, piano, keyboard
  • Cynthia Robinson – trumpet
  • Jerry Martini – saxophone
  • Pat Rizzo – saxophone
  • Rusty Allen – bass guitar on “In Time”, “Let Me Have it All”, and “Keep On Dancin'”
  • Larry Graham – bass guitar on “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” and “If It Were Left Up To Me” (uncredited)
  • Andy Newmark – drums
  • Little Sister (Vet Stone, Mary McCreary, Elva Mouton) – vocals

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