Not even a 24k-gold disc – the centerpiece of this new deluxe edition of Sly and the Family Stone's 1971 touchstone, along with a stitched flower-flag cover – can fully brighten this Rosetta stone of dark funk and proto-hip-hop blues. Recorded largely in a Los Angeles home studio over two years, Riot's tapes were overdubbed so much they lost any aural luster. But the tracks' hissy tonality merely enhances the verité feel of the most transfixing music Sly Stone ever wrote – and his most hard-nosed lyrics, depicting, as A. Scott Galloway puts it in the booklet, "a man in a tug of war with who he has become vs. who he has always strived to be." It's as lowdown as music gets – and as great.
From The Archives Issue 1188: August 1, 2013