Sly and the Family Stone’s anarchic album There’s a Riot Goin’ On, released in 1971 following several tumultuous years in America, has been called “blunt and unflinching” and “very much informed by drugs” and “paranoia.” While the funk group’s creative dynamo, Sly Stone, had indeed been sidelined by drug abuse for months, his disillusionment with the failed promise of the 60s permeates the album. Envisioned as a response to Marvin Gaye’s trailblazing What’s Goin’ On, Sly’s record gives a grim nod to Vietnam protests and fraying race relations in the United States. Only two years earlier, riots had swept the nation in the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. In “Luv N’ Haight,” thumping bass and drums allude to the frustrations of the time.
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