Parliafunkadelicment Thangday! (Keybo’Dans & Synthezoidees Pt. 1)

Behold Parliament Funkadelic! Descending from the cosmos, unearthed from the soil, unleashing funkatomic energy on man, who has ears but does not hear, disconnected from the sound of the universe and vibration of energy. Technozombies, Ipod people. Quick aside: Here I am, you Ipod bastards! Hey, Ipods! Come and get me you scum!

The many musicians of Parliafunkadelicment Thang, Inc. have been delivering unkut funk from the late 1960s to the current day. More than music, Parliament Funkadelic was a visual spectacle, an irreverent take on American pop culture, political satire, mythological metaphysical speculation, sci-fi primordialism. A way of life. Way more influential on current (sub)cultures than recognized, PFunk’s message will continue to be spread well into the future by the disciples of the P whether they are aware of it or not. The spawn of the P is several posts in itself, but will be addressed soon enough.

Infusing substance with style and technology with soul in an increasingly sterilelectronicized age, Parliament Funkadelic brings the past into the future and is hope for all who believe in the importance of having roots deeper than the latest fad. Envisioning middle-aged hipsters riding fixed gear bikes, wearing tight tops & incredibly tight pants tickles my brain.

Anyways, this post will be the first of many PFunk posts. Enjoy the aural sacrament & treat it with the respect it deserves. Dip the cup, feed the soul, do it often for the well is never dry. Open up your mouth and let the funk shine out!

This journey into sound will begin with a post on Bernie Worrell. One of the few blessed with perfect pitch, Bernie is a musical genius. In addition to perfect pitch, he was able to master any keyboard placed in front of him and mix any style of music. Officially credited in linear notes on Free Your Mind & Your Ass Will Follow, Bernie had played, unaccredited, on Funkadelic’s 1970 debut Funkadelic. It wasn’t too long before he was responsible for writing, producing, and arranging much of the PFunk catalogue.

Bosco is influential enough that this will be the first of four posts. The others focusing respectively on Parliament; the side projects of the Parliafunkadelicment Thang/George solo albums/P-Funk All-Stars; and his work with artists like the Talking Heads and Prince Paul and projects like Axiom Funk & Praxis.

But before blasting to the past, I want to continue the theme of the recent Play with Bootsy post and begin with some fire off of Bernie’s 1993 release Blacktronic Science. Blacktronic Science saw Bernie working with a talented ensemble, including Bill Laswell, Fred, Maceo, Bootsy, Tony Williams, and Sly & Robbie.

Bernie’s eclecticism is on full display. From western classical musical to sonic assaulting synthesizer throwdowns, Funk, the most basic element, is all over the album. Bernie and his crew are still light years ahead of their time. Make sure to use some Q-Tips before listening.

“Time Was (Events in the Elsewhere)” and “Won’t Go Away” illustrate Bernie’s ability to blend genres.

“Funky Dollar Bill” off Free Your Mind & Your Ass Will Follow (1971) features a freaky upright acoustic piano. Plus some raw commentary on the corrupting influence of money.

Bernie has a rare lead vocal on “Hit It & Quit It” off Maggot Brain (1971). He also lays down a Hammond organ line so heavy Atlas would collapse under the weight.

America Eats Its Young (1972) had Bernie playing keyboards and melodica while arranging the string and horn parts. An experimental double album introducing the Collins brothers, recently defected from James Brown, was all over the map musically. Like previous Funkadelic, America features pointed social commentary. While the off the wall zaniness of the earlier Funkadelic albums is still present, the sound of the album is different. The heavy psychedelia of previous albums is toned down and more a hopeful tone is presented. Bernie’s keyboard playing is rich and warm throughout.

Bernie sounds like he is playing synthesizer on “Loose Booty,” but is actually playing on a RMI during the “tribute” to junkies. “A Joyful Process” is Bernie’s showcase on this album. Bernie throws down the clavinet funknastiness. Words do not suffice so alas the music.

“This Broken Heart” off 1973’s Cosmic Slop features gorgeous Bernie-composed string lines.

Parliament was resurrected in 1974 as the cleaner side of the PFunk Army. Funkadelic maintained its’ identity as raw, dirty rock funk, which spawned heavy metal. Parliament was slicker and was less guitar oriented and more horn and vocal harmony-oriented. Or as Bernie described it, “We were dong the coke- Parliament. Funkadelic was more heroin.” This time period, up until the end of the 1970s, marks the peak of insanity & creativity for Uncle Jam’s Army. As further posts will illustrate, the amount of music being recorded and released is bonkers.

“Atmosphere” off Let’s Take It To The Stage (1975) finds Bernie exploring the cosmos and extending time with a twisted keyboard lines. Other than the hilariously dirty lyrics, buried a little under the instrumental, “Atmosphere” is Bernie’s show. “Stuff & Thangs” is a short little ditty where Bernie’s musical vocabulary meets technological advancements.

1976 saw the releases of Tales of Kidd Funkadelic & Hardcore Jollies, in addition to the releases of The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein by Parliament, Bootsy’s solo debut Stretchin’ Out in Bootsy’s Rubber Band, and Fuzzy Haskins A Whole Nother Thing.

Tales of Kidd Funkadelic, which was the last Funkadelic release on Westbound Records, gives us the song “Take Your Dead Ass Home! (Say Som’n Nasty)” featuring some Bernie keyboard strangeness. Hardcore Jollies was released on Warner Brothers. “Adolescent Funk” closes the album with a Bernie keyboard workout.

1978 was another big year for the PFunk Empire. Parliament’s Motor-Booty Affair, Bootsy’s Bootsy’s Player of the Year, Bride of Funkenstein’s Funk or Walk, Parlet’s Pleasure Principle, Quazar’s Quazar, Fuzzy Haskins Radioactive, and Bernie’s solo debut All The Woo In The World all were released. Funkadelic came out with the outstanding One Nation Under a Groove. “Groovallegiance” has a calmer Bernie breakdown near the end.

Uncle Jam Wants You (1979) contains the famous groove of “(not just) Knee Deep.” It also contains the wacky, infectious groove of “Uncle Jam.” Philippe Wynne, new to Funkadelic, shines in the vocal spotlight, while Bernie plays some ridiculousness, vocals are layered, and the bass is bouncy and bubbly.

Sadly, Uncle Jam was the penultimate Funkadelic album. After 1981’s, way overlooked, Electric Spanking of War Babies, Funkadelic as a nominal entity ceased to exist. Uncle Jam was also the last Funkadelic album to utilize Bernie’s talents. He had had enough of George’s antics and the craziness of PFunk, moving onto work the Talking Heads.

Electric Spanking saw the infusion of new talent Uncle Jam’s Army including Blackbyrd McKnight and Junie Morrison, who made his PFunk debut on One Nation Under A Groove. Junie had previously been in the Ohio Players, and also released some solid solo efforts. The dirty guitar of the “Icka Pricka” is suggestive, but one cannot get a true understanding of how dirty “Icka Pricka” is until listening to the lyrics. The keyboard parts are not the high and low-end forays of a synth, but work against the guitar lines to help keep the song swinging.

Anyways, back to the focus of the post.

Bernie is one of the most insane musical talents in the history of man. If you don’t move to his grooves than I don’t know what to say for even the dead snap their fingers. Know who really raised Lazarus and resurrected Jesus? Bernie Worrell. The Funk lives in each and everyone one of us (well maybe not Dick Cheney), as buried as it may be, raised Lazarus and resurrected Jesus. Therefore, Bernie (as well as you) raised Lazarus and resurrected Jesus. Transcendental immanence! The oyster is your world, so gobble it down and embrace the Void. Fly us away Wizard of Woo!

“Funk is a feel”

If you wish to learn more about Bernie Worrell, the documentary Stranger on Earth (2005) offers a revealing look into the off-stage side of Bernie, how insane his abilities are, and discusses his impact on the world. Next Parlifunkadeliment Thangday! should be next Monday, although a midweek version might be feasible this week. Whenever it is, it will focus on Bernie & Parliament.

Comments would really be appreciated on this post. Listening to Funkadelic’s discography was a fun way to spend the day; however, many hours were spent on this post and will continue to be spent on future music posts, so some love would be appreciated. Even more than love would be music discussion or digging competitions. I love discussing music. I may even have a record you want and you may have a record I want. Later this week there will be a post listing the records released by the PFunk Army or alumni of the PFunk Army I have not been able to locate. A totally complete PFunk discography would be insanely awesome, but help will be needed.

Go on and play with your funky self!


One Response to “Parliafunkadelicment Thangday! (Keybo’Dans & Synthezoidees Pt. 1)”

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