No band epitomizes the Bay Area spirit like Sly & the Family Stone. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the co-ed, multi-racial band could have been the single greatest American band, offering some of the best live shows in the history of music and two of the best albums. However, these two albums could not have been more different. 1969's Stand! was a vibrant, political, psychedelic, and insanely funky record that captured the head-in-the-clouds vibe of the 1960s in San Francisco while keeping its feet firmly in the real world. There's A Riot Goin' On eschewed the bright, psychedelic, and distinctly Bay Area sound they had become known for in favor of a dark, lo-fi, and relentlessly chilling funk sound which had never been replicated but can be heard nowadays in the music of everyone from Bibio to George Clinton.
Ray Wilcox, DJ/musician/promoter, says: “Stand! is essentially a young Bay Area band taking full advantage of the groundbreaking open-minded experimentation and freedom of expression that the late 60's had to offer. Most of the tracks were all over the radio, but read between the lines for some subversive and challenging pop music curveballs that challenge anything you've ever heard on a record. This record oozes energy and heartfelt soul, lyrically both uplifting with almost idealized optimism, ironically countered with paranoid, slap-in-the-face social commentary. The beats are SLAMMING, some of the most sampled in hip hop, and the songs are all sublime.”
Daniel Bromfield of SF Rebirth says: “There’s A Riot Goin’ On had an effect on me no other album has ever had, and I believe it is an effect it has had on many listeners. When I first heard it, I would have liked to have thought it was extremely boring. The instruments were off and barely audible; Sly sounded as if he was slumbering in the depths of indica and waking up only from time to time; and I felt no real forward motion in the music. Yet at the same time it had a certain stranglehold on me, as if I could not draw my attention away from the mood it was creating. I felt as if I was staring down an enemy who was standing so still and motionless I thought it must be a ploy to lunge when I least expect it. But there are no sudden surprises on There’s A Riot Goin’ On--just that mood, an aura of fear and paranoia, but with a light prevalent throughout and perpetually battling the terror with the pure power of love. No album has ever come even close to balancing light and dark as effectively as this one."