Greetings everybody! Sorry about my writing the past couple of days. I know it was nothing but crappy drivel. I had fallen on Saturday, so my back spasms were way out of control, not that my spasms are ever under control. But they have been worse than normal. Then, Monday morning I got a call from my step-father called me to say that he was having trouble getting my mother out of bed. Long story short, Mom has pneumonia and is in the hospital. As most of you know who are around my age or older, watching your parents’ health deteriorate is heartbreaking and stressful. So, instead of not writing and just listen to music, I chose to write two crappy entries. Oh well…
So, I have been listening to lots of music. Recently, I had received George Clinton’s autobiography. I have not started reading it, but it is next on my list. But, I have been pulling out my records/CDs/mp3s of the various artists of his empire. I did not limit myself to his Parliament, Funkadelic and solo stuff, but his Bootsy’s Rubber Band, Eddie Hazel and Zapp music as well. This musical empire has yet to have been matched by anyone. Some people have compared Clinton to Frank Zappa, and maybe artistically they were attacking their music from a similar muse, but where Zappa always likened himself to classical composers, Clinton was more about fusing different forms of rock and R&B musics into his own, recognizable sound. His basses and synths melted into each other, providing a bedrock of whizzes, pops and farts, not the simple dance sounds of traditional sounds. Clinton’s funk was an amalgamation of space sounds, rock guitars, fuzz basses and adapted reggae/funk beats colliding head on with James Brown’s funk. Clinton’s music is busy, strange and quite possibly the sound of funk rock on acid. And, yet, you can dance yo’ butt off on the dance floor to this music.
When Clinton started, his band was called The Parliaments, and the band had a hit in the 60s with the song “(I Wanna) Testify”. After that hit, a lawsuit arose about the band’s name. So, Clinton, under the influence of late-60s rock music and his own use of LSD lead to a rechristening his band under the banner of Funkadelic. Funkadelic was created as an R&B-based rock.
Then, after a few years, Clinton won the right to his original band’s name, but he decided to drop the “The” and the ending “-s”, renaming this band Parliament. Clinton’s genius was his ability to use the same crack musicians while creating two completely difference musical identities. Thus, Parliament became the funk band. As the years moved on, various members of the bands produced solo albums for various members, such as guitar god Eddie Hazel, bassist extraordinaire Bootsy Collins and leader of the Horny Horns Fred Wesley. Then Clinton created two girl groups to give him his own “Supremes” in the form of Parlet and a more rocking R&B girl group like Labelle called The Brides of Funkenstein.
The strange thing is that as the 70s moved toward the 80s, there was very little difference in the sounds of Parliament and Funkadelic. Parliament got more guitars in their, and Funkadelic got more horns. Still, with a huge stable of some of the finest, and wildest, musicians who played in every form of the bands, Clinton could establish a concert tour that featured five or more bands with the same musicians playing all night long. Add to that the crazy recording scheduling, from which they could release five albums in a calendar year while touring during their “off” time. This led to mass defections of the musicians, leading to financial problems for Clinton.
But, what saved George Clinton and his empire’s reputation was the rise of rap music and it’s reliance on samples from music. Clinton was a huge supporter of rap music and was the friendliest musician toward rap’s use of samples. Those samples gave Clinton the cash flow that was desperately needed. So, through the 90s, Clinton and all of his Motown-inspired bands’ reputations were on the rise, recognizing the genius of the Parliafunkadelicment Thang. Now, Clinton and his posse are musical gods .
With that said, here are My Top 20 Albums from George Clinton’s P-Funk Empire, along with an album rating, from 0 to 5, from the website AllMusic.com.
20. Bootsy’s Rubber Band – Bootsy? Player of the Year (1978). 4.5
19. Fred Wesley and the Horny Horns – A Blow for You, a Toot for Me (1977). 4
18. The Brides of Funkenstein – Funk or Walk (1978). 4
17. Parliament – Up for the Down Stroke (1974). 4
16. Bootsy’s Rubber Band – Stretchin’ Out in Bootsy’s Rubber Band (1976). 4.5
15. P-Funk All-Stars – Urban Dancefloor Guerillas (1983). 4
14. Funkadelic – Uncle Jam Wants You (1983). 4.5
13. Funkadelic – Standing on the Verge of Getting It On (1974). 4
12. Funkadelic – Free Your Mind…And Your Ass Will Follow (1970). 4.5
11. Parlet – Invasion of the Booty Snatchers (1970). 4
10. Bootsy’s Rubber Band – Ahh…The Name Is Bootsy, Baby? (1977). 4.5
9. Parliament – The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein (1976). 4.5
8. Funkadelic – Funkadelic (1970). 4.5
7. Parliament – Motor Booty Affair (1978). 4.5
6. Eddie Hazel – Games, Dames and Guitar Thangs (1977). 4
5. George Clinton – Computer Games (1982). 4.5
4. Parliament – Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome (1977). 5
3. Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (1971). 5
2. Funkadelic – One Nation Under a Groove (1978). 5
1.Parliament – Mothership Connection (1975). 5
I love the music from the mind of George Clinton, and his lasting legacy has been galvanized by the rise of rap music on the samples used from his music. It’s never too late to discover the main source of many of the young people’s favorite rap songs. Don’t be afraid!