Wednesday, February 24, 2010

#21 Partying on the mothership with George Clinton and P-Funk

Once upon a time, the gods of funk sent us George Clinton. His mission was to shake things up on Earth and show us a whole new kinda groove named P-Funk. The story of Clinton's legacy began in 1956 in Plainfield, New Jersey, with a group formed by a then fifteen-year-old boy named George Clinton. This early band was called The Parliaments, a name inspired by Parliament cigarettes. Over the next few years, the group had solidified into the initial lineup of Clinton, Ray 'Stingray' Davis, Clarence 'Fuzzy' Haskins, Calvin Simon and Grady Thomas.

The Parliaments did not meet with great success in the beginning. Their early recordings consisted of only a handful of singles for the relatively minor label Revilot Records. These included a hard-won hit in 1967 with "(I Wanna) Testify/I Can Feel The Ice Melting", but the band still struggled to achieve recognition. The Parliaments were just the start and have gradually become just a part of the musical collective known as P-Funk. Over the years, the sound has solidified into a terrific blend of psychedelic rock, R&B, and an outrageous style of space-funk. Through their experimentation with distortion and feedback and their outlandish live performances, future incarnations like Funkadelic gathered a small but devoted cult following. Popularity began to rise with the release of albums such as 'Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow' and 'Maggot Brain'.

In 1972, William and Phelps Collins, two brothers who eventually became more widely known as Bootsy and Catfish, respectively, joined the band. Both brothers were influential in the development of what I would call the P-Funk sound, particularly bassist Bootsy who is regarded as one of the funkiest bass players to ever live. As the sound began to take flight, so too did the lyrics as songs became increasingly populated with recurring characters in what would be known as the P-Funk mythology. Characters such as the Lollypop Man (alias the Long Haired Sucker), Dr. Funkenstein, the Atomic Dog and the Star Child began invading the albums throughout the funky collective of bands Clinton was masterminding. He then began expanding beyond the characters to an entire funky universe. In 1978 he introduces Funkadelica, a nation where "the Funk rules and can’t be either stopped or labeled". The people of Funkadelica are called Funkateers (as are P Funk fans) and are led by Uncle Jam. Their mission is to rescue dance music from the doldrums of unFunkiness.

You really have to listen to P-Funk to hear what I am talking about. I remember when I first heard a sampling of their work I was completely blown away. It is music that is so funky it makes you sweat! You are compelled to let out a massive "WHOA" and put on aviator sun glasses and clothes decked in rhinestones and get your funk on. I got to see George Clinton in Calgary once and it was the funkiest thing I have ever seen. Everyone in the crowd had on huge sunglasses and was rocking out in ecstasy from funk overload. The band played for five and a half hours which is still the longest single concert I have ever seen. I remember that after it let out we all stood there at almost 3am that we were running on empty.... We had just been funked half to death by the master!

The Facts:

- The musical collective of P-Funk includes: Parliment, Funkadelic, The Brides of Funkenstein, the P-Funk All Stars and at least a dozen or more smaller acts between 1956 and today.
- When Parliament-Funkadelic were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, They credited sixteen people as the official band members though many more were left uncredited.
- Their official discography is tricky to nail down because of all the different band names but it's somewhere in the 30-40 range between 1956 and today.

My Fave Album:

I love the album 'Mothership Connection' It is the fourth album by Parliament, released in 1975. This concept album of P Funk mythology is definitely my fave. It is a fantastic concept album and also the first appearance for the Starchild. He is a divine alien being, who came to earth from a spaceship (his arrival is "the Mothership Connection") to bring the holy Funk (with a capital "F": the cause of creation and source of energy and all life), to humanity. As it turns out (according to The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein, 1976), Starchild secretly worked for Dr. Funkenstein, the intergalactic master of outer space Funk, who is capable of fixing all of man’s ills, because the "bigger the headache, the bigger the pill" and he’s the "big pill" ("Dr. Funkenstein," from The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein). Dr. Funkenstein’s predecessors had encoded the secrets of Funk in the Pyramids because humanity wasn’t ready for its existence until the modern era. With a story like that how can you not get hooked?

I love this track, sorry I couldn't find any good quality videos but this is an awesome track.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love George Clinton and the P-Funk, sure would love to catch them am in a P-Funk kinda mood..thanks for this post Tosh!