Back in April, when I was in the C’s and it looked like we were going to be in quarantine for a while (hoo boy), I was forced to admit that I was a latecomer to George Clinton, Parliament and Funkadelic. When I was in high school, “Give Up The Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)” by Parliament was a big hit, though I didn’t own it or anything related until the mid-‘80s when I picked up Clinton’s “R&B Skeletons in the Closet.” That was toward the end of my vinyl-buying, and i didn’t get anything more in the deep funk territory until some digital buys some years later. I would hear something by Parliament or Funkadelic and dig it , but confusion over what group was what contributed to reluctance, as did a feeling that the album stuff was different or less listenable than the singles. I had “Maggot Brain” digitally, and I played it . . . but I didn’t listen to it. So I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t own my first Funkadelic vinyl until last year, when I bought this at Forever Changes in Phoenixville. Really, I bought it on the title alone. How could anything with this title be bad?
It could not. This is: wow.
This was Funkadelic’s sixth album. Released in 1974, it featured the return of guitarist Eddie Hazel, who left after their third record, “Maggot Brain,” to which he had contributed a legendary 10-minute guitar solo. On this record, he co-wrote all the songs (which were only seven, often a red flag for me). It is really more funky than “Maggot Brain,” more groove-driven, and completely out there. I’ve said before, there was no way I would have been ready for this when I was a teen . . . as much as I enjoyed top 40 r&b, a brain that had just recently been awakened to music and was deeply into Elton John, John Denver, the Eagles, I just wouldn’t have been ready for this. But now? Now, this is gooood. And I’m happy to have a beautiful new pressing, because there’s a lot of space in this that needs to be free of pops and clicks.
It’s insane to listen to this and think it was nearly 50 years ago . . . it’s still out there. In a good way. And the recording is phenomenal.