Sly & The Family Stone - Fresh
So SLRJ didn't update yesterday and you know what happens? That's right, Michael Jackson dies. You remember where you were. You couldn't even enjoy a perfectly normal day of masturbating to the thought of Farah Fawcett's spread asshole 'cause the King of Popping Pre-Teen Boys' Pelvises Out of Place (fuck yeah, retell that joke to all your friends and credit it to me or else) is goin' nuts and having his heart fail all over the damn place.
And so I put Sly & The Family Stone's Fresh in the CD player because it's a phenomenal recording and I only spin the hottest shit. I came of age during a time when this was considered an AMG five star album and now it's been bumped down to a miserable four. That's bullshit, frankly. So what if There's A Riot Goin' On "sustains an overwhelming mood of apocalyptic weariness throughout that makes it one of the most crucial yet harrowing documents of the post-psychedelic era"? I just threw that description together and it's probably spot on, but come on, Sly cleaned up and tightened the grooves like crazy for this one and they're just as irresistibly funky and hooky. Like a perfectly approachable middle-ground between the uplifting life-affirmation of "Everyday People" and the considerably more draining songs on Riot, which aren't really that different from Fresh, besides the latter being one of the most fantastic sounding CDs I own and the poorly mastered former being one of the most god-awful. And apparently the Riot tapes were pooped on or chewed up by a cat like SAW 85-92 but lo-fi is IN thanks to the latest Japandroids LP so COME ON FEEL THE NOISE, INDIE ROCK BOYS!!!
Where Riot just kind of dribbled out of the speakers like diarrhea, the music on Fresh pops right out at you. Listen to the drums on "In Time," man, this shit might as well be on Aja it's so perfectly mixed, rhythmically, sonically, arrangementally, everything. Hi-hats and saxophones and background vocals careening all over the fuckin' place. Prince, James Chance & The Contortions, Miles Davis, the mighty Chili Peppers and their timeless reinterpretation of "If You Want Me To Stay"... they all got it. They understood what makes this music so powerful and why this is how you funk it up!!! Sly nailed the concept of this kind of funky soul whatever the fuck as something that is to be painstakingly constructed in the studio like Prince blowing magical purple loads into his 4-track and making that direct-in electric guitar just tear your throat open. Give it up for Sly and how he must feel about watching MJ get swallowed up by his shitty life and then finally lose the chance to maybe redeem his unfortunate reputation, except he basically lost it a bit after this album and is really just another casualty of success or drugs or some crap who happens to not have stuck around long enough for everyone to wonder, "What the hell is up with that dude and why can't all superstars handle their fame with the stability and grace of Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band?"
Just a really great album. You've probably spent the recent months avoiding it but Stephen Thomas Erlewine isn't always right about everything, you know. Stop letting him kick your music taste around like that.
Rating: RIP MJ, thanks for the hitz.
Download Link: "In Time"... enjoy this beautifully remastered jam in stunning AIFF quality. Really, guys, this is like the best song ever, ask Dogg about black music some time and he'll just say, "If you don't got 'In Time,' fuggedaboutit!!!"
The album has other songs, too. "Skin I'm In" is good. "Frisky." It's all FRESH.