Coming as it did after "There's a Riot Goin' On", who knew what was in store for the listener. After huge success, Sly had retreated from the world. When he came back,he had ditched the optimistic stance that had brought him popular acclaim, and a multi racial audience, and moved firmly into a Funk groove, and a very dark vision of the world. So would he do more of the same, or try to reclaim some of the audience he had lost, would he retreat deeper into the depression that appeared to overtake him, or had he got another surprise in store.
As it turns out, he developed the Funk. With "Fresh" you still get social comment, and Sly's fatalistic view, but the overall tone of the album is not as relentlessly dark as "Riot...". There are monster Funk grooves at every turn: the opener "In Time" is driven by a burbling bassline, with punctuating horns and a guitar riff that appears to come from a different song. "If You Want me to Stay" was a successful single release, featuring that Bass again, but this time the horns are well back in the mix and an organ and an electric piano fight it out up front. Stand out tracks also include "Skin I'm In", where a defiant Sly whoops and wails, and the truly unexpected "Que Sera Sera".
Together with "Riot" and "Stand", this album represents the peak of Sly Stone's output. He was a huge musical influence, particularly on Black Music, just listen to early Commodores or the Ohio Players. That he fell into a commercial slump within a couple of years after the release of this album was something of a mystery, but this album deserves your attention if you are a music fan and is essential if you love the FUNK
Mixing the soul and funk of 'Stand!' and the down-right sleezy madness of 'There's a riot goin on' and you have the musical stew that is 'Fresh'. This is late night stuff. Filthy and funky. It is also Sly and the family stones last true masterpiece. and it is there best.
Just the right balance of grooves and mood, light and dark. It just keeps on bubbling under. The innocent joys of the 60's are long gone here, but it boogies better than 'Riot'.
squelchy wah-wahs, muffled wails and that fat backbeat will take you on and on into the early hours with the sublime, sexy sounds of Mr Stewart and his Family stone....
Although "There's A Riot.." is often lauded as their best, I think that this one is over-looked. Are fans aware that two cuts of this album were released? There was no plan behind this: just a random occurence. There used to be a Sly site that explained how to distinguish between the two, from the code on the sleeves. It no longer exists, but the version that I prefer (and unwittingly found in a record library) is the better one. I think that it is the rarer one. Sparser sound ; more echo / reverb; no backing vocals on "Let Me Have It All"; and a better sounding: "If You Want Me To Stay." Only the absence of Larry Graham is the weak point.
There was a mix up with the masters and as a result the version issued in the UK was made up of the rough versions, the finished versions only appear on the US issue (catalogue no. EK 32134). For the fan both versions are worth getting.
I have an older copy of this on CD - without the extra tracks.The main difference between 'Stand!' the 'Riot' album and this one at least to my ears is that he was going for a thinner sound.It's just different, but you do sense his tiredness from drugs,hangers on and all the usual things that life throws at us.The track 'Que Sera Sera' knocks spots off the syrupy Doris Day version and is worth the purchase for that track alone.There is enough going on to keep most people happy.I think, even on a bad day Sly had more funk/soul in his little finger than most people manage over a whole career.
This album is one of Sly's best. If You Want Me to Stay is one of the grooviest tracks around - prepare to swivel your hips and snap your fingers as you hear his opening growl. And his cover of Que Sera Sera is heart-wrenching - twisting and warping those notes around just enough to hit you in the belly. Looking for quality funk with sophisticated tunes? You will not regret this purchase. (Actually, it's worth it just for the album cover picture alone - jump higher, Sly, you'll reach the sky!)
Excellent throughout and good extra tracks. The standard is consistently high across all of the album. Good packaging design and quality images of an excellent band, makes modern bands and music boring.
Yo whats up im from america and one day read online that there was an alternate version to my favorite sly stone album and alll i had to do was get the UK version. I did and what a good decsion that was!!! Every track is a little diffrent then the US version expect for In Time. The skiin im in Uk version is suuper laid back. So brits if you love this album like i do check out our US version for another side of this album! You wouldnt be disappointed!!
I've always thought that reviews of reissued albums should focus on what the reissue offers and whether it's a worthy purchase, so here goes:
The remastering has made a reasonable improvement to the sound of the original CD (which to me lost definition in the horns and didn't separate the instruments well enough). The horns sound great in the new version, and it's much easier to discern the complex arrangements that were originally low in the mix. The other thing that hit me was Rusty Allen's bass, which propels most of the songs in a way that it never did on the original CD. Strangely, the emphasis on the bass makes the album sound much closer to There's A Riot Goin On than I remember. (This is a good thing to me.)
The extra tracks don't add an awful lot, but they are interesting.
Oh, and it's still a great album. While it still falls apart a little between I Don't Know and Que Sera Sera (the middle of the old side 2), the first six tracks are blinding. The last two aren't bad either.
A mix of everything funky Sly manages to follow 'Riot' with, for many fans, in 'Fresh' his greatest effort. Considering his personal turmoil at the time Sly jups into this recording with total confidence, 'If you want me to stay' is a fine central piece combining chug-along not-quite-slap bass with jazz chords on keys, totally unique in terms of ballard-writing.