Welcome to Musical Appreciation. As most people might have already figured out, I love funk music. As a kid, my dad would play this music all the time (and still does). It was my first exposure to older music and I loved the grooves and melodies of these songs. Funk is basically black rock n’ roll with the improvisations of jazz and the spirit of R&B and soul. Earth, Wind & Fire, Kool & The Gang, Ohio Players, Sly & The Family Stone, Gap Band, and the subject to today’s Musical Appreciation, Parliament-Funkadelic. A funk collective led by the legendary producer George Clinton and featuring numerous musicians, this band revolutionized the sound of black music in the 70s with surreal records drenched in Afrocentric futuristic concepts and elaborate stage shows. One can only imagine what being at a Parliament-Funkadelic show in the 70s was like. Not to mention that without them, hip-hop wouldn’t exist. Outside of James Brown, they’re the most sampled music act of all times thanks to several hip-hop songs utilizing their songs for beats. Today’s Musical Appreciation is the fourth studio album from Parliament that started the P-Funk mythology, which is an anthology series that was told throughout numerous Parliament-Funkadelic albums. This is Mothership Connection.
- P Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up): The album starts with P Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up). It plays off as a fictional radio broadcast dedicated to the funk broadcasting from outer space. It’s also a middle finger to radio stations at the time who were hesitant to play any songs from Parliament because of how unconventional their sound was. This is one hell of a way to start an album.
- Mothership Connection (Star Child): Next up is Mothership Connection, which introduces George Clinton’s alter ego, Star Child. Star Child arrives to Earth and invites the listener to come onboard the Mothership. The line “swing down, sweet chariot, stop and let me ride” was taken from a spiritual song called Swing Down, Chariot and was sampled by Dr. Dre for his hit Let Me Ride. This is definitely a highlight of the album and one of the best tracks on it.
- Unfunky UFO: In the next track, Unfunky UFO, all of the people who have boarded the Mothership came from a dying world that I presumed had no funk as they sing “we’re unfunky and we’re obsolete.” They have a fever and the only prescription is funk with tight grooves and melodies.
- Supergroovalisticprosifunkstication: A trope that is common with most Parliament-Funkadelic records is long-ass titles that are just a sentence with all of the words squished together, which is what we get in the fourth track off the album. It’s a plea to the aliens A.K.A Parliament to give the people what they want and they want the funk. And they do just that.
- Handcuffs: And we reach the weakest song on the album, Handcuffs. Don’t get me wrong, I still dig the grooves in the instrumentation, but I’m not feeling the whole sexual thing going on. Not bad, but it won’t be revisited as much as other songs on the album.
- Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker): The more recognizable song on the album and one of Parliament’s biggest hits. And it deserves it because this song is awesome. It continues the mantra of the people wanting the funk. This is the ultimate party song that’ll unite people of all backgrounds into dancing.
- Night Of The Thumpasorus Peoples: And now for the final song, Night Of The Thumpasorus Peoples. This song is mostly instrumental with very little lyrics, so there’s no point in any lyrical content. Just sit back and enjoy the music.
And that was Mothership Connection. A funkadelic tale of aliens coming to Earth to share the funk with tracks bound to get your booty shaking. Sticky grooves, percussion, Bootsy Collins basslines, guitar riffs, horns, sci-fi keys, etc., plus, unconventional song structures all make for a groovetastic listening experience. One of the coolest things about Parliament-Funkadelic was how, like a lot of black culture, they created their own language and slang, giving them a sense of their own identity. This record was ahead of its time and would influence generations of artists that came after. If you haven’t heard this album previously, then go check it out.
So that was Musical Appreciation. Next time, we’ll talk about One Sweet Day. And next week, I’ll release my 100 Best Songs of the 2000s list. You don’t wanna miss it.
SONGS OF THE WEEK
Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker)-Parliament