The Lonely Goatherd Blog And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats - Matthew 25:32
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December 12, 2007
Standing up for George Clinton and the P-Funk New pal Brother Bennie wrote me with some remedial notes regarding my professedly middling knowledge of George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic:
I discovered your reviews of P-Funk albums through Wikipedia, and I find myself inspired to comment accordingly.
When it comes to the funk, one has to consider the several definitions of that term: Fright, depression, earthiness, lack of sophistication, foul smell (especially from sexual intercourse). Also, funk is an amalgamation of jazz, soul music, the blues, strong syncopation, numerous rhythms, etc.
In light of the above factors, I believe that P-Funk generally sought to express the funk in all of its forms.
That's probably why albums such as Maggot Brain, Funkadelic, Hardcore Jollies, and Free Your Mind...And Your Ass Will Follow don't seem "funky" to those who expect merely funky beats and plenty of bass playing.
Instead, listeners get an overwhelming taste (through music) of the grittiness that the world has to offer: The fleeting gains of money (check out the songs "Friday Night, August 14" and "Funky Dollar Bill"), sexually charged lyrics ("I Wanna Know If It's Good to You"), group conflict ("You And Your Folks, Me And My Folks"), fear of the world's end ("Wars of Armageddon") heartache that leads to depression ("Maggot Brain" and "Some More"), stenches (notice the flatulence sounds in "Wars of Armageddon" and the sound of someone presumably smoking a marijuana joint in "Mommy, What's a Funkadelic?"), and crudeness ("If You Got Funk, You Got Style").
In other words, the music was always funky -- even with screeching guitars, lyrics that don't always make sense (in a 1976 Rolling Stone interview, George Clinton said that one cannot make sense and be funky), and numerous music genres mixed together by the collective (very few funk groups ever play country, western, rock, psychedelic, heavy metal, soul, classical, jazz, reggae, and other musical genres along with the funk).
This is why I suggest that you do your best to brush up on your knowledge of the funk. Thanks.
P.S. Prince cites George Clinton as a major influence. Regarding George Clinton, he was (at his best) a rather good promoter (of himself and the music). Of course he didn't have the skills or talents of Prince or James Brown -- then again, who does? However, he gathered as many talented singers and musicians as he could to make P-Funk function effectively. And that's probably his best contribution to music. Thanks. ********************************************* Al Barger's Remedial P-Funk Notes