Archive for December, 2008

Got To Get Over the Hump Day (Searching Galaxies Far & Wide For Funky Remedies)

Posted in Art, Music, Photos on December 31, 2008 by trapperKeeper

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Last night I partook in some electronic music.  Some of it was good and some of it didn’t know what it wanted to be confusing noise for music; button pushing and knob twisting for variety.  The Bass was not properly brought last night.  That is of the time called past, so lets leave to the year of last.  Interspersed throughout are more touched up photos.

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Previously, I posted a track off of Neco’s Star Wars & Other Galactic Funk (1977).  A disco-funked out cinematic score perfect for the boner pill popping populace Pzifer imagines us to be.  Add epicness to your commute just by plugging in.  It is perfect easy listening for another “rockin” new years eve with wheelchair ground bound Dick Clark.  Get ready for blast-0ff America!  To where?  To the bottom.

Here are the facts, courtesy of allmusic.com, about the man behind the moniker Meco.

Producer and studio musician Meco marked a confluence of the two dominant pop-culture preoccupations of the late ’70s, shooting to fame on the heels of a chart-topping disco rendition of the theme to Star Wars. Born Meco Monardo in Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania in 1939, he took up the trombone at the age of nine, and later earned a scholarship to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. There Meco formed a jazz trio with fellow students Chuck Mangione and Ron Carter, later enlisting with the West Point Army Band. From 1965 to 1974, Meco worked as a studio player, and also landed a number of arranging gigs, most notably on Tommy James’ “Crystal Blue Persuasion.” He additionally arranged and performed the music on a series of television commercials.

Meco’s breakthrough arrived in 1974 when he co-produced the Gloria Gaynor smash “Never Can Say Goodbye,” followed by the Carol Douglas masterpiece “Doctor’s Orders.” In 1977, Meco saw the George Lucas film Star Wars on the day of its release and quickly became obsessed, seeing the picture numerous times; while admiring producer John Williams’ score, he felt the music lacked commercial possibilities, and soon contacted Casablanca Records chief Neil Bogart about the possibility of a disco version. Working with veteran Broadway arranger Harold Wheeler, Meco recorded Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk; soon the first single, “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band,” rose to number one. Although he recorded similar music inspired by films including The Wizard of Oz and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Meco remained most closely associated with Star Wars, even recording a highly successful Christmas album based on the movie; he retired from music in 1985, later working as a commodities broker in Florida.

Here is the track listing:

1. Star Wars (15:49)
* Title Theme
* Imperial Attack
* The Desert & the Robot Auction
* The Princess Appears
* The Land of the Sand People
* Princess Leia’s Theme
* Cantina Band
* The Last Battle
* The Throne Room & End Title
2. Other Galactic Funk (12:31)
*Other
*Galactic
*Funk
3. Star Wars Theme – Cantina Band (7″ Edit) (3:32)
4. Star Wars Theme – Cantina Band (12″ Disco Mix) (7:34)

Meco created an interesting disco funk suite using the symphonic elements of the Star Wars score.  Star Wars & Other Galactic Funk certainly contains its’ share of cheese, but then so does pizza and pizza is good.  Pizza=good, thus cheese=good, thus Meco Star Wars=good.

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The original piece “Other Galactic Funk” emphasizes syncopation and dense drums, which channel a martial edge at times.  The “Galactic” section features some funky horn soloing.

It is too late in the evening to be dwelling in such pleasant, but turgid moods.

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Return of the Biter! Security Threat: High

Posted in Art, Music, Photos on December 30, 2008 by trapperKeeper

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I got a chance to edit some photos recently and here are some of the results.  I really like the one above.

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Oh Mona Lisa

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http://www.divshare.com/download/6212322-56a

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Funkiest hearse in the universe.

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Watch out he isn’t biting for blood or brains.

Happy Parliafunkadelicment Thangday! May We Board You? (Flat Earth Theory)

Posted in Adventures, Music, P-Funk, Photos on December 30, 2008 by trapperKeeper

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This past week when back in the home of the successful Detroit Lions.  0-16,  I believed!  I discovered a previously untapped lode of P-Funk, including some unreleased material from 1973 and 1976, and many of the spin-off releases.  I am still missing a few albums and recordings where significant Funkateers were the session musicians.  A quest not as grandiose as the latest, not so greatest Indiana Jones movie, but much more rewarding.

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I finally arrived home today after a long day of flying and busing.  Crying babies on planes are an essential reason for carrying headphones.  Headphones are necessary if you are using public transit; you never know when someone will try to engage you in a conversation you have no desire in engaging.  The attempt is inevitable, but with Boy Scout readiness one can deflect the conversation.

Headphones effectively block conversation attempts even if your mp3 player is dead.  The illusion of listening to something is generally enough.  Other times a cell phone conversation can be initiated or, in the case of not being able to get hold of anyone, hold a fake cell phone conversation.  I  have never actually had to get that creative before.

Anyhow, today’s as a good as time as ever to finish up with the Brides of Funkenstein discography.  When the Brides were opening for Parliament-Funkadelic on 1978’s Anti-Tour, a live album was recorded during the two shows, occurring November 1 and 2, 1978, at the Howard Theatre in the Chocolate City, aka Washington, D.C.

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The performance thankfully includes a version of “Birdie.”  “Birdie” is one of the greatest songs ever!  I just came back to the studio version of the song after a couple of weeks away, and was blown away as much as before.  The sultry female vocals at the end are pants tent inducing.  The bass dances all over in a way that means usually means one thing.  Bootsy, but Rodney “Skeet” Curtis is credited on the album.  Credit is due, for the studio performance is dripping with the funk juice provided by ball of tits from outer space.

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Everything on this song works so well individually and collectively.  The musicians often get overlooked in the glare created by GC, but true heads know how important the musical invasion force was.  Clinton greatest gifts were at breaking down boundaries, realizing the potential in others, melody, and processing and synthesizing concepts and information.  He also managed the circus, while mythologizing the Funk through verse and vibrations.  The man could not have slept much during the 70s, or since.  The man isn’t wired to sleep, and crack is his fuel.

Chaos was the method to the madness of the P.  Funk wouldn’t exist without it.  Living in chaos on the line between genius and insanity can provide a clarity not allowed by staying in the cozy confines of the artificially flavored center.  Once you get outside the box, you see how tiny that box really is.  P-Funk was able to channel chaos better than probably any other group in history, which is one reason they were successfully able to smash genres and transcend boundaries.

It also helps explain why the discography of P-Funk is the greatest.  Motown certainly had more hits, and even got slightly psychedelic, but P-Funk’s output tops all due to the diversity of sound, inventing a whole new way of funkin’ different from the James Brown model, satirical wit, pushing the trends .  Although the truly psychedelic Motown soul was recorded on side labels.  Berry Gordy peddled his music to white pop radio, which should not be taken as an indictment of the music or man.  This decision influenced the sound and themes of material.  Motown transformed over to political-influenced releases and harder sounds on a little later on.  P-Funk was conducting mad scientist sonic experiments on the level of the Beatles, one of their influences, but had a sound, style and background much different than the shaggy headed quartet.

George Clinton witnessed the riots in Newark and Detroit and was transformed profoundly like Saul when he was blinded by the light.  Morphing from a barbershop doo wop trying to land on at Motown to the early Funkadelic combination of vocal harmonies, Sly Stone and Jimi Hendrix-inspired rock, the grimy rawness of MC5 and Iggy & the Stooges, studio experimentation, and the Funk that rested within.  P-Funk was ever evolving and exponentially expanding throughout the seventies.  The eighties got a bit synthed out and stale, but George can still bring it, just not as often or on nearly the level as the golden age of P-Funk.  The musicians surrounding GC in the Incorporated Thang during this period is the most impressive cast of musical talent ever assembled, so the difficulty reaching previous heights is understandable.

Anyways, the official live release of the Brides of Funkenstein finds a  comfortable and hungry band ripping through a well-paced stellar set.

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After the band introduction, the  “War Ship Touchante,” one of the most whacked out P-Funk songs begins.  Electronic blips and bleeps roam throughout the song.  It begins with the Wedding March theme, until jumping into a straightforward take on the song.  Although, the live version is spiced up with some horns.  “Razor Sharp” goes crazy on the keyboards extracting otherworldly noises.

“Birdie” follows up the mood set up by “War Ship Touchante,” which serves as a fitting intro.  “Birdie” is about embracing the Funk.  The tempo really picks up around the halfway mark, allowing Blackbyrd to shred over a hard tempo.  Then, it all drops off and the vocalists are given a minimal groove to float over.  The keyboard plays brilliantly around the space provided by the groove.  And none of it could be done without the foundation laid down by the drums and bass.

Beginning with a Chocolate City shout out, the bass and horns take you on a funky “Ride On.”  There is a lack of flow between “Birdie” and “Ride On” indicating a chop.  Funk commandments are further proselytized.  The consistent excellence of the P-Funk horns is most impressive.  Jeff “Cherokee” Bunn plays some dirty slap bass.

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“Brides Maids” is a direct sequeway over from “Ride On.”  The synth bass rumbles like Jackie in Hong Kong.  The choruses of “Good to Your Earhole” and “Mothership Connection” are smashed together with walloping drums.

The Brides take Bootsy’s “Vanish In Our Sleep” out for a spin.  Out in the front at the beginning, Dawn and Lynn don’t disappoint.  Maceo also provides some delicate flute at the beginning.   Eventually, the minimal backing music builds as the song progresses.  Bootsy’s is a spacey, mostly mellow affair featuring bizarre keyboard effects and space bass.  The Brides “Vanish In Our Sleep” isn’t nearly as spacey and finishes with a more spunk than Bootsy’s.

“Together” is a song off of Chocolate City.  Faster and slower tempos are intermixed, while horns are given ample space for soloing.  “Kush” gets a chance to really go off.  Crowd participation takes over the second half of the song.  A seething ball of energy is created, bringing the Mothership down.

The live version of “Disco To Go” is even more potent than the studio.  Popping with energy from the get go, including crowd participation, “Disco To Go” has outstanding horns and a groove that hits harder than the studio version.  Halfway through the song turns into an outro jam.

James Wesley Jackson, aka the “Environmedian,” finishes the set with some  humor and insight.

The support lineup for the Brides, who consisted of Lynn Mabry and Dawn Silva, was impressive.  The studio sound was replicated with the aid of the Bridesmaids, who were Sheila Horne, Babs Stewart and Jeanette McGruder.  Horne and McGruber became full-time Brides when Mabry left just before the recording of the second album.  The band consisted of long-time Bootsy associate Frank Waddy (drms), Joel “Razor Sharp” Johnson (keys), Jeff “Cherokee” Bunn (bass), DeWayne “Blackbyrd” McKnight (gtr).  The horns consisted of the talented trio, Maceo Parker (flute, sax), Fred Wesley (trombone), and Richard “Kush” Griffith (trumpet, band leader).  So there was some fresher blood in this smorgasbord of talent.

Today’s post will end with a shout to an old roommate living in Korea who recently had a P-Funk sighting:

when i was watching the lights down at the stream here last night a kid with a blaster came up to the bench and starting dancing a jerky, funky, ugly, energetic, flexible wierd ass improv dance. i just let him do his thing while listening to the funkadelic tracks echo over the iced water and concrete walls. After sir nose d. had made a long speech i had to talk to this kid whose response to the words:
” funkadellic?”
“Parliment ?”
funk music ?”
“george clinton ? ”
was : ” no english” so i said “Funky music, funky dance” and smiled at him. he said ” Funk dance ! funk dance !” and split a huge grin and gave me a hug.
I never thought that would happen to me while bird watching at the led lit concrete creek in my district, but it did. even if they don’t know what they are listening to, you can’t keep the funk away from the youth.

Once the Funk was unleashed there was no containing it.  Like herpes, the symptoms of funk infestation can remain dormant, but just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean that it’s not there.  Funk flows even if mostly unknown, as this story illustrates.

Happy Parliafunkadelicment Thangday!  Enjoy the music.  I am off to roadie for a friend  A sound scientist divinely born with the sonic equivalent of the Hubble Telescope for ears.  A Funkateer even before he was a Funkateer, Forrest is an artist in the truest sense.  You can check out some of his stuff at:

http://www.myspace.com/deliciouspeeps

http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewProfile&friendID=41630221

Where is my Blowfly?

Posted in life on December 27, 2008 by trapperKeeper

I apologize profusely for not delivering the Blowfly XXX-mas album on Xmas.  I left the files in Seattle, but I will be delivering posts once I arrive back in the PNW tomorrow night.  Late.

Bird Watching

Posted in Photos on December 23, 2008 by trapperKeeper

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Our House was a Very Fine House/Our House is a Very Fine House

Posted in life, Photos on December 23, 2008 by trapperKeeper

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These lovely flowers  grew right outside of the door of my old house.  Just before departing it for the last time I snapped a few quick photos.

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These ones are from the front steps of my residence.  I am a big fan of looking all around, but particularly at the sky.  Clouds and their interaction with the sun, trees, power lines, planes, buildings, etc.  Skewing perspective is fun.  Plus, it is just about impossible to take a photo of the sky in Seattle and not capture a power line or three.

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This photo was recently tweaked to spectacular effect.  I will have to upload those pieces soon.

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This is another image from this day that I have been experimenting with.  Poppin’ rays!

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These last three were from an early morning at the new place.  The massive blanket of clouds was penetrated.

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Walking in a Winter Wonderland (Hey Frosty Quit Being a Peeping Tom!)

Posted in Adventures, Photos on December 23, 2008 by trapperKeeper

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The frost ended the growth of more fungus, but after the snow landed I locomoted out to the Arboretum to see what it would look like all covered in virgin snow.  I went a little too late in the day to take advantage of the light from the sun and I did not remain too long for it was cold and I lack proper snow footwear.  The pond was frozen, which trapped some lilypads.

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These ones had been fruiting very heavily on a patch of grass nearby some Oak trees.  They were extremely brittle due to the cold.

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Some later afternoon sun was shining across the water on the UW Huskies football stadium.  Unfortunately for Husky fans, their teams season wasn’t so bright.

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Decomposing Matter Mulch (Receiving Form & Becoming Substance)

Posted in Adventures, Photos on December 23, 2008 by trapperKeeper

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These are from a few days before the frigid weather hit Seattle, bringing a frost which wiped out the mushrooms. A sad day indeed, but the season did last longer than last year.  Once Spring arrives they will return.  I am currently back in Redford, Gateway to the Burbs, where there is even more snow than Seattle.  It is also more frigid than Medusa.  Stay out in it long enough and you will be turned into Encino Man.  Blow Jack Frost blow, just don’t blow down my house.

These little guys were growing right in a crevice on a log.  They lived such a short life.

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Happy Parliafunkadelicment Thangday! (Denser than the Blackest Hole)

Posted in Art, Music, P-Funk on December 21, 2008 by trapperKeeper

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Parliament’s Osmium is more a collection of songs than an album, especially for a concept collective like P-Funk. In other words, Osmium, which came out in 1970, is varied. However, it is a starkly revealing album filled with urban blues rock, psychedelic soul, experimentation, chaos, hilarity, profound depth, and moments of murky brilliance. Named after the densest element, Osmium didn’t reach the opaqueness of the first three Funkadelic LPs, but certainly tapped the same vein while maintaining a more accessible levity.

Osmium served as a jumping off point for the early Funkadelic sound, much like America Eats Its Young was the springboard for mid-70s Funkadelic.  The blueprint .  If spore prints could be taken of this album, it would leave a funky chocolate print.  You can hear the taproot of the mind-blowing (and chart-topping) Funk of Parliafunkadelicment Thang Empire. Osmium is much more Funkadelic than Parliament in sound, but is but separating the two isn’t possible. The Funk cannot be split like an atom or banana.

One last note before delving into the LP, Osmium has been released in two other forms.

Rhenium (1989) is an import, originally the British re-release of Osmium, which contained all the original songs plus three additional singles: “Red Hot Mama,” “Breakdown,” “I Call My Baby Pussycat.” Some of the songs on Rhenium are also shorter than their Osmium versions, others have different titles, and song credits are different. First Thangs (1994) contains everything on Rhenium while adding a few more songs recorded during that era. Those two albums will be commented upon in a follow up post for much confusion would ensue if the variations were added.  One last note on Rhenium, whereas Osmium is the densest element, Rhenium was the last naturally occurring element to be discovered.  It is also one of the ten most expensive metals on Earth.  I am not a chemist, so consult the internet or a chemistry friend for anymore knowledge than that.

Onward and upwards to the chaos of Osmium and beyond!

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http://www.divshare.com/download/6161470-a3f

George Clinton, further known as GC, tapped the talents of the five Parliament singers, Ray Davis, Calvin Simon, Grady Thomas, Clarence “Fuzzy” Haskins, and himself. Hence, the album was released under the Parliament flagship. A couple of females, Vivian Lewis and Ruth Copeland, who wrote several songs appearing on the LP, provide their voices.  Ruth Copeland has deeper ties to the P, and recorded two fine albums with the Funkadelic musicians, but that is a chapter for another day. The five official musicians of Funkadelic, Eddie Hazel (ld gtr), Tawl Ross (rhy gtr), ‘Billy Bass’ Nelson (bs), Mickey Atkins (organ) and Tiki Fulwood (drms), of Funkadelic were used to create sonic chaos.  These members were aided and abetted by Bernie Worrell (key), Gary Shider (rhy gtr) and Tyrone Lampkin (drms).  The original five of Parliament and original five of Funkadelic all contributed to Funkadelic’s self titled 1970 release, as did Bernie Worrell.

“I Call My Baby Pussycat” opens the album.  Setting a mood of goatish chaos, you can just picture the salacious look on George’s face when delivering the rhymes.  One of cleanest dirtiest songs you will ever hear.   Drums crash, whistles pierce, a guitar riff worthy of a dirty burger is unleashed, and unhinged vocals combine forces to create an intoxicating stew.  The “whoa-ha-hey! whoa-ha-ha” chant never left the canon of the P, and for good reason.  The organ drop at the 2:54 mark is tight.

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“I Call My Baby Pussycat” was a favorite number to play live during P-Funk’s early days and later reappeared in a much on 1972’s America Eats Its’ Young.  In fact, many riffs from this album pop up on later releases and were utilized during live performances.  James Brown is channeled with a “Good God!”  Don’t take Viagra or any other erectile dysfunction pill because you will pop some blood vessels and have to go the emergency room.  Now where did I loose my purple mind?

The mysterious Vivian Lewis is credited on “Put Love In Your Life,” which begins cleanly but quickly and jarringly jumps around the musical spectrum.  Update: I just discovered that Vivian Lewis was the mother of GC’s son Tracey Lewis, aka Treylewd).  Motifs come to halting stops.  Truly, an ADD song.  Ray Davis demonstrates his monster bass voice.  Guitars howl feedback at the moon.

Ruth Copeland wrote “Little Ole Country Boy,” one of my favorite songs of the P.  You have never heard yodeling so funky.  So funky, in fact, that it was sampled by De La Soul on one of their early hits, “Potholes In My Lawn,” which eventually turned up 3 Feet High and Rising.  The lead vocals of Fuzzy are rough, the lyrics hilarious, and guitars, included a steel guitar, provide a nice country western feel.  This song is reminiscent of the Rolling Stones’ country-western rock.  Solid bass work helps carry the insane weirdness.  “Little Ole Country Boy” has to be heard to be believed.  Invictus, the label releasing Osmium, loved the song so much it was the b-side to four of the five singles put out.  Only one single, “The Breakdown” made it onto the charts, reaching #30 on the R&B and #107 on the pop.

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George sings an ode to an enterprising, bootlegging female on “Moonshine Heather.” Perhaps “Moonshine Heather” is based on an individual from his early childhood days in Kannapolis, North Carolina.  A widow having to sell moonshine to support her fourteen children, Heather prays for forgiveness but takes care of business.  Backing vocals are filtered.  There is good guitar-organ interaction again.  “Cosmic Slop” draws on the same theme, replacing bootlegging with prostitution.

“Oh Lord, Why Lord/Prayer” follows the transgressions of “Moonshine Heather.”  Credited to P. Trim, another unknown, and Ruth Copeland, who wrote the prayer, “Oh Lord, Why Lord/Prayer” is a call against racism and prejudice set to the melody of Canon in D.  Truly, a beautiful emotive song, Bernie gets to bust out some sweet strings.  The heavy drum contrasts nicely to the string-vocal combination.  Ruth Copeland hits some high notes while a martyr calls out to the Lord for the strength to persist.

Clarence Haskins shines on “My Automobile,” a delicious slice of sexual frustration. Beginning with just Bernie, who you can tell is already a beast ready to be unleashed, on keys and George and Fuzzy trading verses and harmonizing, the song is a behind the scenes look into a recording session.  George and Fuzzy decide to do it hillbilly style then the engineer’s voice pops in quickly to confirm.  Next, the full band joins in from the top.  Following the tradition of 1950s rock, whose innocent-seeming lyrics about kissing and dancing were code for adult situations, George and Fuzzy have some fun.  Fuzzy’s vocal transforms the disturbing sexism into hilarity. Eddie’s guitar line is effective, as is the bass line. This song was most famously redone by N.W.A on “My Automobile.” Their gangsta rap take was a bit more explicit than the 1950s-tinged lyrics of the original. If you listen close enough at the end you can hear them sing “I’ll walk home in my automobile.”

“There Is Nothing Before Me But Thang” has great interaction between guitar and drums with George waxing mysteriously about duality and other nonsensical thangs. This number is perhaps the most psychedelic track on the album.  Eddie is the star of this one.

“Funky Woman” might actually top “Little Ole Country Boy” as my favorite song on the album.  Bernie gets a chance to really shine, the guitars are awesome and George’s lyrics about a menstruating woman are extremely hilarious.  I was aware PMS was funky, but who knew it could be so funny.

An ode to the right to live a life as one sees fit (in a libertarian sense of having a right to live as one wants to live as long as it doesn’t entail harming non-consenting parties, such as Jesus or a tree, but acknowledging the hard reality and consequences of living so free, “Livin’ The Life” is an excellent song.  Eddie again wields an impressive axe.  The peak of the riff was taken as the basis for “Hardcore Jollies”  Bernie’s piano intro is gorgeous, as is the interplay between the acoustic and electric guitar.

“The Silent Boatman,” also credited to Ruth Copeland, closes the LP on a beautiful note.  Ruth Copeland knew how to write deep.  The Silent Boatman, aka Charon, is a favorite ancient Roman character of mine.  Come on he has to do with death, what do you expect.  Bagpipes are featured on this one, adding another unusual instrument to the album.  Ruth does some nice wailing near the end.  One reason I love this one so much is the awareness of the egalitarian nature of death.  On a side note, one of my favorite Banksy tags is of Charon on the side of docked boat.

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Many members had moments to shine on this record, from the vocalists to the band.  The nascent genius of Bernie and Eddie Hazel’s maggot brain in full effect are just two of the fine individual performances.  I love Parliament’s R&B and the horny horns, but the P’s early naked shit is still my favorite period of theirs.  Tapping that ole down yonder funk and the madness of the mind the P create a bubbling concoction.

By this time George was freed from Motown, had a solid core assembled, and was looking to blow some minds with Funk. Osmium was one of George’s first times acting as a producer and you can tell he had some fun in the studio.  P-Funk’s trademark sound had yet to be hammered out, so GC threw a whole bunch of ideas out. Listening to later releases, you hear the fruits of this session.  Osmium was actually an attempt by GC to achieve a more commercial sound, thus the focus on vocals.  Needless to say, the album flopped commercially, but the material was too far out for most.  Dive into the wonderful madness!  You are guaranteed to never be bored.

I think I see the Mothership coming. Let me see ya raise ya hands, let me see ya stomp ya feet, you got to make some noise if you wish the Mothership to swing down and give you a lift.

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Much thanks to the Motherpage for the valuable info.  Whereas past Happy Parliafunkadelicment Thangday posts were picked for a variety of reasons, today marks the start of something new.  Obviously, Happy Parliafunkadelicment Thangday will remain, but today marks the beginning of a historical breakdown of the P.  The journey will be long and arduous, but filled with Funk.  Remain in the Funk and the Funk will remain in you.  It will guide you on any journey you take.  Cling to it like Frodo clung to the ring.  See you again next week.

Straddling the Abyss between the World of the Dead and the Living (We’re Not Coming for your Brains, just your Souls)

Posted in Music on December 20, 2008 by trapperKeeper

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Yesterday’s Freaky Friday post was delayed due to an airplane journey home.  Airports and airplanes suck, but it beat driving through the snow in my non-existent car.  While I am home I will attempt to follow my schedule, but certain days may be missed for reasons of lacking on-hand music or being busy with family and friends, but the week will still be fruitful and productive.  Anyways, on to the belated Freaky Friday post, which is focused on the startlingly debut album of Exuma.

Exuma’s self-titled 1970 release, Exuma, is raw, spiritual music and thoroughly primal and original.  Unlike most anything else I’ve ever heard, Exuma’s debut blows minds, nourishes the soul, and disturbs the pious.  It isn’t a field recording, but it is just about as raw.  Featured in the re:Discovery section of September/October waxpoetics, the album artwork immediately grabbed my visual cortex.  After locating the album, the sounds on it kidnapped my aural neurons.  Exuma’s music truly is unclassifiable.  It is the result of a mind not transfixed in present time, but aware of the infinite within and beyond.

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http://www.divshare.com/download/6147483-7d8

Exuma the Obeah Man was the creation of McFarlane Anthony McKay, born in the early 1940s on Cat Islands in the Bahamas.  He moved to New York at the age of seventeen to study architecture.  He ran out of money for his studies and in 1962, participated in folk music hootenannies.  Gaining confidence, he started a group called Tony McKay and the Islanders.  He also was in a show called A Little of This ‘n’ That in 1965, where he appeared alongside Richie Havens.  Exuma played in the famous Greenwich Village folk clubs Cafe Wha?and the Bitter End.  However, the music Exuma made wasn’t folk music, although it had some similarities. Still, Exuma was dripping with too much ju ju.

Whatever It is  Exuma has IT!  Open your third eye to the sounds of cosmos.

Opening the album is “Exuma, the Obeah Man,” a song detailing Exuma’s potent powers, which include raising the dead and making your unhappy woman love you.  A dense, syncopated rhythm .  Bones and other percussive sounds create a skeletal undercurrent.  You can’t deal with Charon daily without the boatman of the underworld introducing some new sounds into your vocabulary.  Despite the ominous mood and supernatural eeriness of the Obeah Man, the whistles at the end emote playfully.

“Dambala” follows the voodoo-infused “Exuma, the Obeah Man” with its’ own juju.  The bass drum hits hard, providing a nice contrast to the otherwise sonically light song.  The lyrics again deal with the supernatural and spirituality.  At this point, Exuma’s prowess using the human voice to emote has been proven.  Not capable of hitting all the highs, nor all the lows, Exuma just emoted beautifully.

Words are meant to fail for words are symbols made up of symbols, aka letters.  Symbols can only describe and never truly capture a moment.  Exuma understood that projecting words with his voice box would utterly fail at expressing the inexpressible.  All attempts at expressing the inexpressible have no choice but to fail, but at least Exuma realized it is more potent to vocally project moods and moments with sounds rather than modern language.  When our ancestors first utilized their vocals cords there were no words let alone formal language.  Exuma travels back to that time when he forgoes words for sounds.  The “yeah” whisper is unsettling yet seductive, like the siren call of the underworld.
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“You won’t go to Heaven,

You won’t go to Hell,

You’ll remain in your graves,

With the stench and the smell.”

Zombies are on the prowl on “Mama Loi, Papa Loi.”  The voices carry a sense of urgency, which make sense considering the song is a warning.  Have no fear my dear Paul Revere is near!  The beat pounding during the buildup to the release after the 2 minute mark is way intense, sounding like the feet of an approaching  zombie horde.  Exuma loves creepy voices.  “I see fire in the dead man’s eye.”

After the intensity of “Mama Loi, Papa Loi,” “Junkanoo” is a welcome breath of lightheartedness and respite.  Super syncopated using whistles, the creepy voices and dark magic of the previous songs return to its’ resting place.  The drums that drop in at the 2:20 mark, and fade too quickly, bring some bass.

Returning to metaphysical deep end, “Séance in the Sixth Fret” is strange, intense and a little bit frightening way.  Spirits are being called upon, a gong sounds, and the weird frogish voice again calls from the other side.  This sounds like an actual Séance, and it very could be.  Communing with the other side, Exuma gathers pertinent wisdom, such as hell is no good, god is not dead, and we should stop shedding blood.

The catchy pop, for Exuma’s standards, of “You Don’t Know What’s Going On” contrasts sharply to the third eye vision of “Séance.”  Do not eat the holy cow, nor attempt to take the milk from the milky way.  The weirdest lyric of the whole song might be “you can’t put the light in Ray Charles’ eye.”  Considering the cosmic, metaphysical ancient vibe of the album, this lyric‘s modernity creates a comic juxtaposition.  Exuma accepts the inevitable, realizes the absurdity of life, and is going home.  He’ll leave the ball behind, where he is going he won’t be needing it.

“The Vision” is the ultimate song, in the sense of it being the last.  A sense of purity is evident here.  The mysterious dark magic is still present, but seems less sinister.  Exuma lays out a vision he had one night.  Then he vanishes into the ether, leaving us with warnings of the c0ming apocalypse and pearls of wisdom.

Exuma owes some thanks to Dr. John, aka the Night Tripper, for Gris Gris (1968), which mixed psychedelica, R&B, and voodoo.  Gris Gris, Dr. John’s first album, received critical acclaim and popular attention helping pave the way for Exuma.  From there, Exuma helped illuminate at least a sliver of the ultimate using junk percussion, simple guitar, and a haunting voice.

Saturday’s scheduled post is postponed, but I hope to burst the Church of Metal cherry on the week before the birth of the boy in the manger.