Last week we explored 6 Reasons Why Motown is its Own Genre and what EntreMusicians can learn from their stellar examples. Today we open up the can of Maggot Brains and uncover the stanky P-Funk that only continue to get stronger!
1) Crazy Wisdom. Both Words Aptly Apply to the visionary George Clinton who has been able to juggle Multiple Concepts, Rhythms, Personalities (as many as 60 simultaneous band members) & Record Labels and remain Active, Relevant and Viable at 75 Years Old.
Yes, he’s also equally endured Multiple Business Failures, Drug Use and Almost Inappropriate Everything, but just when you think he’s going to Lick His Wounds from a Rocking Chair, He’s Back On Stage, Leading the Charge for The Funk of it.
2) Uncanny Innovation. Early On, George surmised that the quickest way to get the attention P-Funk needed was to separate from the Motown Melting Pot and Trash the Suits and eschew Doo Wop after a few years of trying to fit in. Taking a cue from Hendrix, Clinton formed Funkadelic and put the guitars on the front burner. Enter Singers, Horns and the first Major Bass Line to be dominated by a Moog.
Experimentation took center stage as the band destroyed traditional ‘verse-hook-chorus-bridge’ composition and pursued The One, first and foremost, using whatever sounds were available and took studio production to extreme levels.
3) Comedic Cast of Characters. Every Member of P-Funk was a Star and George arranged for most everyone to Shine by creating multifarious acts within the band. From Eddie Hazel to Bernie, Bootsy, Glenn Goins, Gary Shider, Bigfoot, Catfish, Junie, Skeet, Fratengelo, The Brides, Horny Horns, Parlet, Blackbird, Hamp, Boogie, Fuzzy and On & On, You Cheered for Each and looked forward to their Contribution to the Funk.
George introduced Imaginary Characters into the dramedy which held as much (or more) court as their human bandmates. Dr. Funkenstein, Sir Nose (and Sir Nose, Jr.), Mr. Wiggles, Star Child, Sir Lollypop Man (alias The Long Haired Sucker), Casper & Bootzilla (who were actual aliases of Bootsy) extended the Imagination and Mythology of P-Funk.
It’s a little know fact that George’s production of The Red Hot Peppers’ “Freaky Styley“ that truly put the rockers on the map. His offshoot groups like Jimmy G & The Tackheads, various guest appearances with artists like Xavier and Thomas Dolby and P-Funk’s long standing association with Prince help solidify their into the souls of Funkateers forever.
4) Expanding Narratives. Along with the creatures, real and imagined, are the vivid stories of a Chocolate City & its Vanilla Suburbs,an excursion through Downtown Bimini Road, the humiliation inflicted on Sir Noze utilizing the Bob Gun, the Essence of the Flashlight, the horror of America Eating its Young, Vietnam atrocities outlined in the Electric Spanking of War Babies, the sterile work ethic of the Children of Production in Dr Funkenstein’s laboratory and ultimately, the Landing of The Mothership continue to engage those new to the notion of Funkadelica.
5) Vital Visuality. Cementing the P-Funk Brand are the Neo-Psuedo, Part Comic Book/Part Novel Album Covers, designed by Pedro Bell and Overton Lloyd which carried over to the Chaotic Circus-like Concerts, where the clothing ranged from the Diaper Laden Shider to any number of Indians, Furry Space People, at least one Indistinguishable Animalistic Alien and a Sheet Wearing Clinton dominating the Stage.
6) Enchanting Motifs. Stopping the Show and shouting “Think…It Ain’t Illegal Yet!!” for 37 non-stop minutes reminded You of Where You Were and Why You Were There! “Gagagooga, gagagooga, gagagoogaga!” “Ha da da dee da hada hada da da!” “One Nation Under A Groove, Gettin’ Down Just For the Funk of It!” and countless chants uttered under the breath of bankers and executives in boardrooms, is foundational to the genius of P-Funk! You Can’t Help BUT Sing Along.
Equally Disturbing are the Infinite Infectious Bass Lines guaranteed to move ANY Head & Foot within 15 Feet! You Can NOT Resist (Even if You Don’t Particularly Appreciate the Song!) You Simply MUST Move! And With the Ever Present Spiraling Squigly Synth Lines Hypnotically Weaving Repetitive Motifs In & Out of the Groove, it’s Irresistible!
7) The One! Finally and Equally (if not most) Important is the P-Funk Approach to The One! Adapted from James Brown, who also accented the eagerly anticipated ‘3,’ P-Funk Stomped The One So Hard & Nasty, They Had to Write a Song About It! The One is the Nucleus of Every P-Funk Anthem.
A Famous George Clinton Chant is “It Would Be Ludicrous to Think We Are New To This, We Do Do This, This is What We Do!” Which is Precisely Why We’ve Been Diggin What’s Been Done for Decades and Why P-Funk is its Own Reward and remains in a Category of its Own!
I was Listening to George Clinton’s “R&B Skeletons in The Closet” while Composing this Blog.