One of the most influential R&B albums of all time, would come from one of the most influential group to come out of San Francisco. The group was Sly and the Family Stone, and the album was There’s A Riot Goin’ On.
Released in late 1971, the album served as somewhat of a transition from the psychedelic soul that was featured in their 1960’s albums, as well as their previous hits to a darker and foreboding funk sound. And while it received a mixed reception from both fans and critics alike (as it was embraced by some, and not so much by others), it would eventually ranked at or near the top of various “best album” lists including Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
In addition to the accolades There’s a Riot Goin’ On would receive, it would prove to be a success commercially, as it hit number one on both the pop and soul album charts. The first single, “Family Affair” also topped the charts, and further releases “Runnin’ Away” and “(You Caught Me) Smilin’” also became hits.
Today, There’s A Riot Goin’ On is considered to be the pioneer of the funk music that would later be further popularized by acts such as Parliament/Funkadelic, and the Ohio Players. It also served as an influence for the jazz-funk genre and its artists including Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis. And of course, the songs on the album have been coverer, reworked or sampled by a wide range of artists including John Legend, Afrika Bambaataa, and the Beastie Boys. Nearly forty years after it’s released, There’s a Riot Goin’ On still remains a remarkable sounding album, with messages that still to this day resonates with the changing times. It also continues to inspire future musical movements, especially hip-hop.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Sly & the Family Stone, inducted in 1993.