A Funkyer Past

p-f1970b_smallIn 1968, the Parliaments had a dispute with Revilot and refused to continue working for the label. While in the throws of the dispute, in an effort to keep working, the band   signed the name Funkadelics with West Bound Records. To avoid waiting for some kind of settlement, the band hastily renamed the group Funkadelic, with the only musicians listed being the original backing band for the Parliaments. Revilot soon folded, and the Parliaments contract was sold to Atlantic. At this point, the band permanently abandoned the doo-wop style (to avoid working for Atlantic), though one Revilot recording, “A New Day Begins”, was released by Atco in 1969.  The re- christened Parliaments Funkadelic emerged in 1970 with the long-lost “Osimium” on Holland-Dozier-Holland’s Invictus label.

p-f1970_smallIn the years to follow the Funkadelic would continue to grow and evolve. And just as the Parliaments begat Parliaments Funkadelic, subsequent groups would soon evolve through the years, such as P-Funk, the P-Funk All Stars and now The Original P-Funk. Though the music accomplishment of all are quite extensive, below are the high-lights that Calvin was involved in.

calvin-red_smallUp For the Down Stroke positions Parliament as the lighter side of P-Funk: the sexy R&B ying to the Funkadelics shanky metal yang. In general, Parlaments plays up a dancible harmony chants and back on the guitar-stroked freakouts. Veteran James Brown sideman like bassist Bootsy Collins and the newly named “Horny Horns” pump up the beat, while an ever shifting cast of singers dispense party tips, sci-fy fantisy trips, seduction rapps, social commentaries scathing satire and tales for tots. throughout it all you always feel the “Presence of a Brain” as one Down stroke track insists. (written by C. Simon)

cal-black_smallChocolate City reveals the downside of Parliament’s exploratory high-energy approach: even killer riffs turn into repetitious vamps and the most pointed raps can evaporate into hot air when left unattended. Parliament snaps back with sharp hooks and a walloping multi-media concept on Mothership Connection. the cosmic theatrics are actually supported by music that resembles nothing else on earth. “Tear the Roof Off the sucker (Give up the Funk)” is a downright irresistible command; that drum-beat hits your reflex center like a doctor’s mallet. Gary Shider’s mellifluous rap on the title track “put a glide in your stride and a dip in your hip and come aboard the mothership” dodges horn lines and blends into key-boardist Bernie Worrell’s exquisitely synthesized fade out.

calvingeorge_smallThe Clones of Dr. Funkenstein doesn’t possess an all-out anthem like “Give Up the Funk”, though it may be the most consistently tuneful of all the Parliament albums. Dispite the mad-scientist jive, horn laden love stomps like “Your sexy Body” define the albums deliciously warped romantic mood. Funkentelechy Vs the Placebo System lays on the space-bass: it’s denser more bottom heavy, even more wigged out then before. “Flashlight” brilliantly epitomizes Bootsy’s thumb-picking propulsion, white “Bop Gum” leaves a deeply lingering sting. Motor-Booty Affair has to be the first and only free-flow aqua funk cartoon song cycle. Amid imaginative synth squiggles (from Worrell and Waters “Junie” Morrison) and goofy underwater giggles, light fingers tracks like “One Of Those Funky Things” and “Liquid Sunshine” strike some of Parliaments most complex and satisfying grooves. This album (along with Funkadelic’s current One Nation Under a Groove) represents P-Funk’s empire at it’s dizzying creative peak.