George Clinton and Miscellaneous P-Funk
Reviewed on this page:
A Whole Nother Thang - Games, Dames and Guitar Thangs - Radioactive - FunkOr
Walk - Pleasure Principle - The Brides Of Funkenstein Live - Invasion Of The Booty Snatchers - Mutiny On The Mamaship -
Never Buy Texas From A Cowboy - Play Me Or Trade Me - Wynne
Jammin' - Computer Games - Urban Dancefloor Guerrillas
- You Shouldn't-Nuf Bit Fish - Live At The Beverly Theater - Some Of My Best Jokes Are Friends - The Federation of Tackheads - R & B Skeletons In The Closet - Lifestyles of the Roach and Famous - George Clinton Presents Our Gang Funky - The Cinderella Theory - With Respect -
Drop The Line - Out Of The Dark - Hey Man... Smell My Finger - Greatest Hits Live -
George Clinton's Family Series Volume One: Go Fer Yer Funk -
George Clinton's Family Series Volume Two: "P" Is The Funk -
George Clinton's Family Series Volume Three: Plush Funk -
George Clinton's Family Series Volume Four: Testing Positive 4 The Funk -
George Clinton's Family Series Volume Five: A Fifth Of Funk -
Funkronomicon - Dope Dogs - Giant
Shirley - T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M. - Greatest Funkin' Hits -
Live... And Kickin' - How Late Do U Have 2B B4 UR Absent?
- George Clinton And His Gangsters of Love
Solo Bernie Worrell albums have been moved to his own page.
If you didn't come here from our main P-Funk
page, you should probably go take a look.
A Whole Nother Thang (Fuzzy Haskins: 1976)
Haskins was one of Parliament's lead singers, and as Clinton's stable of artists exploded after the success of Mothership Connection, Haskins wrote and produced his own project with backing from Funk Mobsters like Bootsy, Bernie and Bykowski. "Which Way Do I Disco?" is a blast, mixing a Space Bass vamp, chanted female backing vocals, and bizarre asides into a funky stew. Most of the rest, though, is fairly conventional, rather dull pop-soul ("Tangerine Green"; "Cookie Jar") or warmed-over boogie woogie ("Mr. Junk Man"), with only minor pleasures like the squealing guitar solo on "Love's Now Is Forever."
Games, Dames, and Guitar Thangs (Eddie Hazel: 1977)
The original Funkadelic guitarist, Eddie apparently didn't have much material of his own lying around;
there's only one new song here - the rest of the album has covers of "California Dreaming" and "I
Want You (She's So Heavy)," a remix of a Bootsy track, and a remixed fan club track.
Hazel comes across much better on Funkadelic's records than he sounds here. (DBW)
Radioactive (Fuzzy Haskins: 1978)
The former Parliament singer's second self-produced album is very good: there are neat arranging tricks all
over the place, like barely-audible distorted guitar on a soul
ballad ("I Think I Got My Thing Together"), keyboard and guitar
unisons ("Thangs We Used To Do"), and unusual syncopated riffs
("Sinderella"). The instrumentation is closer to mainstream soul
than most Parliament or Funkadelic, and even includes high-pitched
female backing vocals. The band is all P-Funkers, though Clinton wasn't involved, and they often make something out
of second-rate tunes ("Not Yet," "Woman"). On the down side,
Fuzzy's vocals aren't interesting or compelling, and his lyrics are
usually just terrible: straightforward and dull. But you'll hardly
notice him, particularly on the bouncy "This Situation Called
Love," written by Glen Goins and driven by fantastic bass licks and
Bernie's voice-bag work that (intentionally) recalls early 70s Stevie Wonder, or on the eerie, Funkadelic-
style "Silent Day." Fuzzy's two LP's have been released on one CD,
called A Whole Nother Radioactive Thang, but I don't think
it's been released in the US. (DBW)
Funk Or Walk (Brides Of Funkenstein: 1978)
George's version of a female soul group - like a funky version of Sister
Sledge. Apparently George was taking this project reasonably seriously:
"Amorous" and "Birdie" are two of the best P-Funk compositions to be
found on a "second-string" release, and he gave them one of his best
ballads, "Just Like You." The single "Disco To Go" is silly and tongue
in cheek, but enjoyable, and the opening and closing riff is brilliant:
the P-Funk All Stars and Bootsy still use it to close their concerts, while the Gap Band liked it so much they stuck it in the middle of their signature hit "I Don't Believe You Want To Get Up And Dance (Oops)." (DBW)
Pleasure Principle (Parlet: 1978)
Thanks to a concerned fan, I recently got all of the original records by
Parlet, Clinton's less successful female group. This first disc is all
over the map: "Cookie Jar" (earlier recorded by Haskins) sounds like a 1971 Funkadelic outtake; "Mr.
Melody Man" is a dreadful overproduced ballad; the title track is an
overlong, hookless funk workout. I'm all for variety, but this sounds
more like odds and ends at the bottom of a desk drawer, partly because
the vocalists sound like they're just along for the ride, partly
because every tune is twice as long as it needs to be. There are a
couple of exceptional grooves here: the slippery funk "Love Amnesia"
and a funk ballad, "Misunderstanding," though that too is run
into the ground. Produced by Clinton, with horn and string arrangements
by Worrell. At this point, the group was Mallia Franklin, Debbie Wright
and Jeanette Washington. (DBW)
Live (The Brides Of Funkenstein: rec. 1978, rel. 1994)
Live renditions with second-string backing musicians, and the
Brides were never great singers; stick with the studio recordings.
Oh, plus the highly questionable comedy stylings of James Wesley Jackson. (DBW)
Invasion Of The Booty Snatchers (Parlet: 1979)
Wright left before this record was recorded, and Franklin left during
recording, leaving the new lineup Janice Evans, Shirley Hayden and
Washington. This time out, the band has a consistent sound.
Unfortunately, it's consistently slick, toothless disco: the single
"Ridin' High" is exactly the kind of bass-popping pap Clinton complained
about on "Placebo Syndrome," and "No Rump To Bump" is worse. The ballad
"Don't Ever Stop" is a dull remake of Bootsy's
"I'd Rather Be With You." The one cut rising above the rest is
the funk-rock riff-fest "Huff-N-Puff" co-written by Mike Hampton.
Produced by Clinton and Ron Dunbar, who wrote most of the material.
Mutiny On The Mamaship (Mutiny: 1979)
When drummer Jerome Brailey left the P-Funk orbit, he went all out, with his new band name and album title directly mocking Clinton. But George got the last laugh: Brailey wasn't able to lure any other front-line talent away with him, and he ended up writing and producing most of this dull, rehashed blob of would-be funk ("Lump," an unfortunately accurate description). There's plenty of energy (horns 'n' handclaps on "Funk 'N' Bop") but not much else: there's little or no originality, melodicism or wit. On the lighter side, the ballad "Everytime You Come Around" is a soggy ordeal.
Never Buy Texas From A Cowboy (Brides Of Funkenstein: 1980)
This is way out of print; a reader generously offered to dub me a
copy so I could review it. Like most of P-Funk's 1979 output it's
heavily discofied, and clearly not as good as its predecessor: the title
track takes up almost half the album, and though it has a killer riff,
after fifteen minutes you're sick to death of it. The other tracks are
effective, but nothing eargrabbing except for Bootsy's contribution,
"Smoke Signals." (DBW)
Play Me Or Trade Me (Parlet: 1980)
A surprise rebound, with a slew of punchy funk numbers: "Help From My
Friends," "Wolf Tickets" (both of which scratched the R&B charts),
"Watch Me Do My Thang," title track. Also, the odd ballad "Funk Until
The Edge Of Time" is enjoyably unsettling. The disco sheen is gone,
replaced with blaring horns, greasy bass lines, instruments in
different keys. The lyrical catchphrases aren't much, and there are no
must-have tunes, but it's a solid investment for Funk Mob fans. Perhaps
the best album to come out of the P-Funk camp in 1980 - the year
everything fell apart. (DBW)
Wynne Jammin' (Phillipe Wynne: 1980)
The lead singer for the Spinners during their peak years, Wynne's voice is pretty,
but he doesn't have a lot of stylistic range or project much emotion. That leaves this record (his second solo effort but first since coming under Clinton's aegis) at the mercy of the songs themselves, which are generally third-rate ("You Gotta Take Chances," one of three tunes by Motown vets James Dean and John Glover). The production - by Clinton and Ron Dunbar - and backing are as anonymous as possible, in late 70s production line style (Wynne's own "Breakout").
The only noteworthy track is an overextended version of the old Arabesque
Funkadelic tune "I'm Never Gonna Tell It." (DBW)
Funk Plus The One (Mutiny: 1980)
Bassist/guitarist Cordell Mosson joined Brailey for this one.
Computer Games (George Clinton: 1982)
Yes, this includes the amazing "Atomic Dog," but there's more: the
loopy animal imagery and monster bass hook on the title track, the
foreshadowing of sampling on "Loopzilla," more of those dog
references on "Man's Best Friend"... with most of the key Funk Mob members present and accounted for, this was a record to reassure P-Funk
fans after the collapse of Parliafunkadelicment and the snapping of
the Rubber Band. (DBW)
Urban Dancefloor Guerrillas (P-Funk All Stars: 1983)
The kinetic single "Pumpin' It Up" alone makes the album worth
hearing, but the more you hear the less you like. The long-awaited
collaboration between Clinton and Sly Stone
is disappointing ("Hydraulic Pump"), and most of the record sounds
like outtakes from scrapped solo albums (Blackbyrd McKnight's
"Acupuncture"; Junie's "One Of Those Summers"). (DBW)
You Shouldn't-Nuf Bit Fish (George Clinton: 1983)
"Quickie" is fun, with a classy rhythm guitar hook and amusing lyrics,
all the musicians throwing in their little variations on the melody.
Other than that, it's slim pickings: George is following rather than
leading on "Nubian Nut," where he raps in early 80s, Grandmaster
Flash-influenced style. Generally the tunes are spare and uninteresting,
with none of the must-listen hooks you usually find in Clinton's work.
And the album-closing title track has plenty of atmosphere, but almost
nothing else - there's an anti-nuclear message in there somewhere, but
it takes more work to dig it out than the song is worth. (DBW)
Live At The Beverly Theater (P-Funk All Stars: recorded 1983, released 1990)
Decent performances of classic P-Funk; made irrelevant by the 1993
4-CD collection. (DBW)
A Night Out With The Boys (Mutiny: 1983)
Bassist Rodney "Skeet" Curtis and guitarist Michael Hampton came on board for this third Mutiny release.
Some Of My Best Jokes Are Friends (George Clinton: 1985)
George bounces back with wry social commentary ("Bullet Proof,"
the album's best tune), sexual innuendo ("Pleasures Of Exhaustion")
and nonsensical story-songs ("Double Uh-Oh") on side one, but after
the Bootsy collaboration "My Bodyguard" the record runs out of
The Federation of Tackheads (Jimmy G. and the Tackheads: 1985)
Although Clinton was at a creative and commercial lowpoint in the
mid-80s, he put together an album for his brother, Jimmy G. Like much
of Clinton's productions from this period, the songs
are overmechanical, overlong, and lyrically uninteresting, but there's a
difference: Jimmy G. has a squeaky, grating voice that's barely on key,
and on a couple of tracks he demonstrates he's not much of a songwriter
or bass player either ("Lies," the Prince
knock-off "I Want Your Daughter"). "All Or Nothing"
is a pretty decent love song, with Jimmy G.'s best vocal performance
on the album, and multi-instrumentalist/co-writer/second producer Steve
Washington occasionally plays an interesting lick (slap bass on
"Slingshot"), but there's nothing else positive to say. I think this was
the end of Jimmy's music career. Even if you're a
completist, don't pay much for this. (DBW)
R & B Skeletons In The Closet (George Clinton: 1986)
Zappa's work excepted, this is the least
effective, least interesting record by a great artist I've ever heard;
Clinton's usual knack for pop-culture catchphrase goes awry with "Do
Fries Come With That Shake" and it goes downhill from there. The
silver lining is the hilarious album cover by Pedro Bell - of the many
covers he's designed for Clinton over the years, this one's my favorite.
Lifestyles of the Roach and Famous (Incorporated Thang Band: 1988)
Spinoff group composed of third-string P-Funkers like Lige Curry and Andre
Foxxe; the album has a couple of good songs ("Bodyjacking") but overall
it sounds like George is trying to hard to make a hit record. (DBW)
George Clinton Presents Our Gang Funky (Our Gang Funky: 1989)
Numerous Funk Mob proteges that couldn't get their own record deals
- for obvious reasons - are represented here. Only Jessica
Cleaves and Gary Shider show real musicianship. (DBW)
The Cinderella Theory (George Clinton: 1989)
His first record under a new contract with Prince's vanity label (Prince paid off
George's debts to other record companies to allow him to record
again). It's solid; there's nothing to complain about here but
nothing terribly gripping either, except "Tweakin'," which features
a guest appearance by Public Enemy,
and the radical chic "She's Got It Goin' On." (DBW)
With Respect (Mr. Fiddler: 1990)
If you've got all the good P-Funk records and you're looking for
something else, this will fit the bill. Joseph "Amp" Fiddler and
his brother Thomas are running the show, but all the usual suspects
are in evidence: Eddie Hazel, Clip Payne, Blackbyrd McKnight,
Michael Hampton. It's in Clinton's overelectrified 80s style, and
the tunes aren't groundbreaking or even interesting, but the best
of them are funky enough to get the job done ("Henpecked,"
"Blackout," "I Wanna Hangout With You"). (DBW)
Drop The Line (Trey Lewd: 1992)
Drop the ball is more like it. Tracey Lewis (George's son) may have
some talent, but it's sure not in evidence here. No happening
grooves; tasteless and vulgar, which doesn't bother me, but that's
all it is ("Yank My Doodle"). (DBW)
Out Of The Dark (O.G. Funk: 1993)
One of the leadoff releases from Bill Laswell's Black Arc label, this
reunites original Funkadelic bassist Billy Bass Nelson with Bernie
Worrell, Parliament drummer Jerome Brailey, and a few new faces,
prominently including guitarist Spacey Singleton. The intention was to
recapture the lowdown funk of the earliest Funkdaelic records, and it
ends up sounding completely derivative: they don't help matters by
copying two Funkadelic numbers note for note, changing the titles, and
copyrighting them as band compositions. Since no one will buy this disc
who doesn't already have the early LPs, I don't know who they thought
they were fooling. Singleton doesn't have anything up his sleeve that
Eddie Hazel didn't do better, and on the few occasions Nelson restrains
himself from reusing old licks, he comes up with power ballads with a
frighteningly early 80s sound to them ("Angie"). Not recommended unless
the original Funkadelic releases are illegal in your area. (DBW)
Hey Man... Smell My Finger (George Clinton: 1993)
A batch of hip-hip influenced tracks ("Rhythm And Rhyme," "Dis Beat Disrupts" - the single "Paint The White House Black" opens with a cameo from Dr. Dre) and whatever else
Clinton had lying around (the pop chorus of "High In My Hello"). When it works, as on "Martial Law," it really works, but most of the time
it's incoherent and diffuse ("The Flag Was Still There," "Hollywood" produced with Dallas Austin).
The long-awaited collaboration with Prince, "The Big Pump," is an amazingly banal aerobics soundtrack.
Bootsy drops by for the silly "Maximumisness," and there are a zillion other guests from Flea to
Ice Cube to Herbie Hancock, but good luck picking them out in the
Greatest Hits Live (Funkadelic/Parliament/George Clinton & P-Funk All Stars: 1993)
The live set P-Funk's always deserved: 4 CDs of excess and brilliance. There's a fascinating mini-set from 1972 ("First Things First"/"Southwick"/"I'll Bet You") and a few cuts from the 80s ("Atomic Dog"), but the bulk of the disc is drawn from a two-day stand at the Howard Theatre in 1978, or a three-day stand at the Kawasaki Citta in Tokyo in 1993. The 1978 material documents Parliament/Funkadelic on top of their world, jamming on their radio hits ("Give Up The Funk") and smoothly blending new and old material ("Cholly"/"I Got A Thing"). They take their time, to put it mildly - "Funkentelechy" runs twenty-four minutes - but if you're a hurry for Mike Hampton to get to the end of "Maggot Brain" you probably shouldn't be listening to the band in the first place.
By the 90s P-Funk didn't have the same kind of front-line talent, leaving way too much space open for Belita Woods ("You Do Me") and Louie Kabbabie ("Babblin' Kabbabie"), but Clinton's transmutative powers had gotten even stronger, raiding licks from an enormous back catalog and repurposing them to keep the audience off-balance even as it keeps grooving ("Quickie").
George Clinton's Family Series Volume One: Go Fer Yer Funk (Various Artists: rec. 1978-84, rel. 1993)
In the early 90s George flooded the market with a five-volume "from the vault" set, featuring tracks by virtually every artist he
ever worked with. (I have the US versions of all five; the European set contains the same tracks, but spread differently across the five
volumes.) The first volume has the heaviest lineup of artists, but it's not what it seems: Sly Stone's one track is
a tossed-off demo ("Who In The Funk Do You Think You Are"), Bootsy's "The Chong Show" is really an undercooked
David Spradley keyboard exercise, and though James Brown supposedly guests on Parliament's fine title track,
I can't hear him anywhere. The backbone of the album is extended workouts by two acts that never had full length releases: Sterling Silver
Starship, a front group for third-string bassist Donnie Sterling, contributes the dull "Funk It Up," while Traylewd's Flastic Brain Flam,
a rock outfit led by George's son Tracey Lewis on lead guitar, whose 12-minute ballad "Michelle" is almost unbearable.
The disc is padded out with toss-offs like a sappy Jessica Cleaves love song ("Send A Gram"), and Blackbird
McKnight's one-man-band rendition of "Sunshine Of Your Love," which may have been a fun way to
kill an afternoon in the studio, but isn't much to listen to.
Like most volumes in the series, the disc ends with ten minutes of intermittently amusing Clintonian rambling about the represented artists.
George Clinton's Family Series Volume Two: "P" Is The Funk (Various Artists: rec. 1976-1981, rel. 1993)
A step up from the first volume. There are two solid Parliament outtakes ("Every Booty (Get On Down),"
with Bootsy, Bernie and Maceo, and "Does Disc Go With D.A.T."), and Funkadelic's "In The Cabin Of My Uncle Jam (P Is The Funk)" is a
wonderful groove, though overlong. The Funkadelic fan club cut ("Clone Communicado") is fun too, though the basic track had already
appeared on an Eddie Hazel album. The rest of the album is nowhere near that standard, though, with an overdose of love songs:
two by the Brides ("Love Is Something" and "Think Right") and a Jessica Cleaves cover of McCartney's
"My Love." There's also another unlistenable Treylewd tune ("Personal Problems"), a demo by the Ali brothers ("She's Crazy") and two
bizarrely boring cuts by Ron Ford ("Bubblegum Gangster," "Rock Jam").
George Clinton's Family Series Volume Three: Plush Funk (Various Artists: rec. 1972-1981, rel. 1993)
If you want to check out one volume from the series, make it this one. The Funkadelic outtake ("May Day (S.O.S.)") is as good as anything
on the record it was cut for (Electric Spanking). The Horny Horns outtake ("Lickety Split," also released on
The Final Blow) is powered by a clever Bootsy bass line. Michael Hampton rocks out on
his solo piece "We're Just Funkers." The 1972 Flo recording "Common Law Wife" is brilliantly
raw, a piece of funk history. But the surprising high point is "Funkin' For My Mama's Rent" by the otherwise unknown Gary Fabulous & Black
Slack, with a great bass groove from Lige Curry and hilarious, way over the top vocals from Fabulous.
Even the toss-offs are better than usual: the Sterling Silver Starhip's "Booty Body Ready For The Plush Funk" is the kind of funk exercise
Clinton cranked out in his sleep, but at least it's better than "Funk It Up," and "I Envy The Sunshine" is the best of the Clinton-produced
George Clinton's Family Series Volume Four: Testing Positive 4 The Funk (Various Artists: rec. 1975-1981, rel. 1994)
If you want to skip one volume from the series, make it this one.
The Parliament track, "Live Up (To What She Thinks Of Me)," is an unsuccessful 1975 attempt to revive an early Clinton soul ballad, while
Funkadelic's "I Angle" is memorable but annoying.
The only song in the series from funk pioneer Sidney Barnes is a 1980 synth mess, "Secrets." There are three flat love songs by the
Brides - "Twenty Bucks" is the only one that's even vaguely enjoyable. A song Ron Ford produced for the Four
Tops is soulless disco-y pap ("To Care").
The biggest disappointment is Maruga & The Soda Jerks, which had never released anything but had achieved an almost mythical status among
fans - "Superstar Madness" is a strange concoction, to be sure, but flavorless. There's one tune each by Junie (the funky "Triune"),
Cleaves (the irritating synth dance "Off The Wall," also by Junie), Jimmy G ("Get It On") and obscure retro-rockers Nick Savannah & Dwarf ("Comin' Down From Your Love").
George Clinton's Family Series Volume Five: A Fifth Of Funk (Various Artists: rec. 1972-1981, rel. 1994)
A bit of a rebound: Parliament's "Flatman And Bobin" (redone for 1997's T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M.) is a pleasant
excuse for the Horny Horns to blow. The Brides redo the early Parliaments tune "Ice Melting In Your Heart" (Clinton revived the song again for the early 90s Otis Day project,
which I really should review someday), and sing "Up Up And Away," plus add backing vocals to Dr. Funkenstein's "Rat Kissed The Cat."
Clinton, Diane Brooks and Funkadelic cover Brenda Holloway's "Every Little Bit Hurts." But the disc is far from great: Funkadelic is represented by "Too Tight For Light"
by Junie Morrison, a synth mess that sounds like a demo, but with Junie you can never be sure.
Perhaps by coincidence, most of the artists here are singing their own compositions: Cleaves wrote the bossa nova "Eyes Of A Dreamer," Phillippe Wynne wrote the sluggish
"I Found You," Ron Ford wrote "Thumparella (Oh Kay)," Bernie wrote the disappointing love song "Who Do You Love," Junie wrote "Can't Get Over Losing You," Tracey
Lewis wrote "Clone Ranger," and even unknown Lonnie Greene wrote the amusing funk-rocker "I Didn't Know That Funk Was Loaded (Count Funkula)."
Funkronomicon (Axiom Funk: 1995)
A Bill Laswell compilation that seems like an answer to Family Series, with a number of old tracks by P-Funk alumni that Clinton
apparently didn't have access to or passed over: three lengthy Eddie Hazel solos with Bernie Worrell on organ ("Orbitron Attack"),
a churchy Sly/Bootsy/Maceo collaboration with Godmoma on backing vocals ("Tell The
World"). There are also a number of recent Laswell production, some
featuring P-Funk personnel - two wild free-bass experiments from Zillatron ("Jungle Free-Bass"),
"Hideous Mutant Freakz" and "Under The Influence" reuniting Clinton, Bootsy and Bernie
- and some not: Nicky Skopelitis's "Telling Time."
Then, unforgivably, Laswell pads the project out to two discs with previously released material like "Animal Behavior" by Praxis and Maceo Parker's "Sax Machine," and a couple of forgettable covers (a Bootsy/Bernie
remake of "Cosmic Slop," Bootsy singing "If 6 Was 9" over a drum loop).
Nearly all of Laswell's usual suspects show up on one track or another: Anton Fier, Aiyb Dieng, Daniel Ponce, Herbie
Hancock, DXT, Sly and Robbie.
Despite the title concept, hallucinatory cover art and insert by Pedro Bell, there's precious little actual funk here, and it's
best left to Laswell disciples.
Dope Dogs (P-Funk All Stars: 1995)
I had a hard time finding a copy of this that wasn't an overpriced
import. If, like me, you've felt that George has been too focused on
electronic gimmicks and trying to keep up with trends, and wished he
would go back to live instruments, nasty funk jams and loud guitars, you
should pick this up. There are a lot of interesting tunes ("US Custom
Coast Guard Dope Dog" - with his best socially-relevant lyrics since the
Westbound days, "Pepé") and plenty of contagious chanting ("Some
Next Shit," "Just Say Ding"). The opening guitar showpiece "Fly On (Dog
Star)" is a thrilling ride, and "Sick'Em" is a freaky, brilliant Eddie
Hazel workout over backwards instrumentation. Parts of the album
drag ("Help Scottie" is dull, "Dopey Dope Dog" is one long sample
of "I Knock The Bottom Outta Mine" written for Otis Day), but
overall this is an enjoyable and welcome return to form. (DBW)
Giant Shirley (Tal Ross: 1995)
Original Funkadelic Ross was sidelined for two decades, reportedly after
a bad acid trip, and he returns with a hybrid of country blues and house
music. It's really strange, and often interesting, but you keep wishing
you could hear Ross better. Producer Peter Wetherbee layers on "ambient
textures, beats, loops and programming" like a cut-rate Bill Laswell,
and drowns Ross' arresting acoustic guitar stylings in a horde of
electric guitar tracks. Tal's not much of a lyricist either (when he not
incomprehensible, he's often ripping off someone like the Zombies), and by the end of the hour-long
runtime, you'll probably be pretty bored. Fellow P-Funk alumnus Jerome
Brailey is on drums, but you can hardly find him among all the ambient
Aftershock 2005 (Mutiny: 1996)
Next, Brailey resurrected Mutiny, bringing in familiar names like Worrell and Michael Hampton.
The title stands for "The Awesome Power of a Fully Operational
Mothership," referring to the fact that practically every surviving
member of the Funk Mob is somewhere on the record. Many of the tracks
are "funk contemporary" - slow tunes with repeating, mellow bass lines
and simple drum parts, like many of the West Coast rappers who've been
looping up P-Funk licks. The tunes work pretty well, including the
single "If Anybody Gets Funked Up (It's Gonna Be You)," the propulsive
chant "Funky Kind (Gonna Knock It Down)," but after a while the
similarity of the approach begins to get to you.
The low points are "Hard As Steel," yet another dirty nursery rhyme,
this time with no decent riff, and the title tune, which just repeats
one theme for seven minutes, with atmospheric but dull, almost wordless
backing vocals. The best tracks, though, are where George departs from
the formula: "Sloppy Seconds" featuring Bernie and Bootsy improvising
brilliantly over a minimal backbeat; a edited, revised version of
"Flatman & Bobbin" from Family Series Vol. 5 featuring the Horny
Horns (uncredited); and the spooky, melodic slow grind of "Rock The
Party," which has the funkiest string arrangement you will ever hear
(courtesy of Paul Riser). (DBW)
Greatest Funkin' Hits (1997)
Hip hop remixes of familiar Clinton tunes, with guest appearances by a number of rappers (Coolio on "Atomic Dog").
In other words, halfway between a remix album and a greatest hits, two formats I generally
consider ripoffs, but the rappers do add some interest (Digital Underground's two versions of "Knee Deep";
the amusing "Flashlight" featuring Ol' Dirty Bastard, Q-Tip and Busta Rhymes). In most cases the remixing is nominal (the second "Knee Deep" is an exception, pared down
to just piano and distorted guitar). Ice Cube's "Bop Gun (One Nation)" is the only song that wasn't
originally released by the P-Funk camp, though it is based on P-Funk samples. The original extended version of "Atomic Dog" is a nice find
for collectors, though I find the four-minute single sufficient and the nine-minute version rather excessive. And for some reason, Clinton
seems hellbent on reclaiming his abysmal mid-80s electrofunk period, featuring two tracks from R&B Skeletons
("Hey Good Lookin'," "Do Fries Go With That Shake") and even a cut from the unbelievably boring Jimmy G. and the Tackheads
effort ("Break My Heart") - all nominally remixed but not featuring rappers or anything else that might make them bearable. I guess I
should be grateful there's nothing from Our Gang Funky.
Live... And Kickin' (George Clinton & The P-Funk All-Stars: 1997)
A deceptively packaged two-disc version of Greatest Hits Live, including most of the longest performances ("P-Funk" runs twelve minutes, "Mothership Connection" nearly seventeen)
and best known tunes: "Atomic Dog," "Flashlight," "Maggot Brain," and so on. Bizarrely, one of the only rarely recorded numbers - "Cholly (Funk Gettin' Ready To Roll)" - is savagely edited down to four minutes.
Then there are two new studio recordings - the Cool Jazz instrumental "Good Love" and the mellow love song "State Of The Nation" - but both are throwaways.
You get the feeling that Clinton's happy to release a disc whenever a label's willing to have him, and what's good for the artist is not necessarily good for the consumer - stick with the original release if you can find it.
How Late Do U Have 2B B4 UR Absent? (George Clinton & The P-Funk All-Stars: 2005)
An exhausting double-CD of new studio recordings; I'm not sure but I think this release has even less going for it than R & B Skeletons In The Closet did.
Clinton's formula is sluggish funk vamps with programmed drums, synth bass and endlessly repeated chants; it gets dull during the opening "Bounce 2 This" and doesn't get any better thereafter. Apart from the semi-soft funk, there are lots of love songs ("Saddest Day"), many of which are covers (Curtis Mayfield's "Gypsy Woman").
Nearly every Funk Mobster, from Bernie through Belita Woods (a typically overwrought cover of "More Than Words Can Say") turns up somewhere (Bootsy excepted), but none of them get anything much to do.
Prince is similarly wasted on "Paradigm," another half-witted groove that starts with promise but never develops.
Apart from a brief cover of the Beatles' "Because" (illustrating Wilson's Law Of Beatles Covers), there's one high point, the tender acoustic ballad "I'll Be Sittin' Here" with Joi. Low points are countless, but let's start with the brain-deadening, fifteen-minute "I Can Dance."
George Clinton And His Gangsters of Love (Clinton: 2008)
A collection of oldie covers, mostly love songs - Johnny Ace's "Pledging My Love"; "It's All In The Game"; "Fever" - with guests ranging from Red Hot Chili Peppers to RZA ("Heaven," which loops an unmodified sample of "If I Was Your Girlfriend").
Two P-Funk classics are dusted off: Funkadelic's 1973 lament "Heart Trouble" and Bootsy's tender "As In." Many of the tracks fall prey to the low energy, excessive looping and lack of musical development that doomed How Late ("Mathematics Of Love" with Kim Burrell). ("Gypsy Woman" is repeated from that set, with Carlos Santana added on guitar.)
Also, since Clinton's voice is almost completely gone by now, it's downright weird that he hogs so many of the leads ("Pledging My Love").
There's one quality track, though:
Marvin Gaye's "Ain't That Peculiar" is fortified with a vamp from "Nappy Dugout" and vocals from Sly Stone at his world-weary, insinuating best.
Back to the P-Funk Reviews
Back to Wilson & Alroy's Record Reviews