Happy Parliafunkadelicment Thangday! Looking to the Future to Discover the Past (Brides of Funkenstein, Pt. 2)

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The Brides of Funkenstein formed in Detroit in 1977, although the roots of the group can be traced to a short-lived funkstravaganza.  In November 1976, Sly & the Family Stone reformed and appeared as special guests on the P-Funk Earth Tour.  After about a month, Sly & the Family dropped out of the tour, but a fruitful relationship resulted of the connection.  Check back for the rest of the story and the Brides first album on Monday’s installment of Parliafunkadelicment Thangday.  For today’s purposes it is enough to know that the Brides of Never Buy Texas consists of two new additions (Jeanette McGruber and Sheila Horne) and the loss of an original member (Lynn Mabry).  I have come up with a weekly schedule which should make posting easier.  I will try my best to adhere to it.  Back to the P.

The idea of a female vocal group in the Parliafunkdelicment Thang Inc., empire was spawned in the fertile soil of George Clinton’s brain.  At this juncture, Parliament-Funkadelic was working in overdrive.  Parliament had recently released the mad funky, and acclaimed, The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein (1976), Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome (1977), and Motor-Booty Affair (1978).  In fact, the Brides of Funkenstein jumped off of the Clones of Funkentein concept, which was incorporated from Frankenstein.  Also released was pretty tepid Gloryhallastoopid (or, Pin the Tail on the Funky) (1979).   Funkadelic had released the fairly weak Tales of Kidd Funkadelic (1976) & Hardcore Jollies (1976) before the monstrous One Nation Under the Groove dropped in 1978 and the solid funk of Uncle Jam Wants You (1979).

In addition to the two pillars of the P-Funk empire producing at an impressive clip, the side projects. utilizing the same musicians, of George’s vast Funk empire were producing work as impressive as the best Funkadelic & Parliament albums.  Some revolt followed these years, but goddamn the Funk produced during these years!  The P is going to influence the future much more than people realize, but that doesn’t make it any less real.  Anyways, Bootsy’s Rubber Band released Stretchin’ Out in Bootsy’s Rubber Band (1976), Ahh…The Name Is Bootsy, Baby (1977), and Bootsy: Player of the Year (1978).  Impressive as it is to release three albums in three years, it is way more impressive to release three insanely bomb records in three years.  All while contributing to other seminal funk recordings.  Bootsy is a potent motherlicker!

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And Bootsy was only the tip of the iceberg during these fruitful years.  How most of these cats are even still going is mad impressive.  The Brides of Funkenstein released Funk or Walk (1978) and Never Buy Texas From a Cowboy (1979), two of the finest albums of disco funk ever recorded.

Also during this time period, Fred Wesley & the Horny Horns put out A Blow For Me, A Toot To You (1977) and Say Blow By Blow Backwards (1979).   Parlet’s Pleasure Principle (1978) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1979) came out.  Eddie Hazel’s outstanding solo LP debut, Game, Dames, and Guitar Thangs, which cemented Eddie’s legacy, came out in 1977.  Bernie, habitually overlooked when it comes to recognizing the genius of the P, put out his first solo LP, All is Woo in the World (1978).  Members of the P-Funk Army also worked on Fuzzy Haskins’ solidly received 1978 release Radio Active.  The P was extremely busy and produced an insane amount of grooves during these years.
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They did all of this while unfortunately losing several extremely talented members to dissatisfaction.  The funky albums, Quazar’s Quazar (1978) and Mutiny’s Mutiny on the Mamaship (1979), were the result of the split.

I believe I have documented this fruitful creative period before.  But I feel the need to keep stressing how much the Parliafunkadelicment Thang Empire produced during its’ peak.  The only thing that can compare in any way are the respective house bands utilized by Motown, Philly, and Stax.  And those don’t even touch what the P was doing.  When you listen to the P-Funk, you are getting a musical history lesson.  Especially if Bernie is involved.
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Anyways, the focus of today’s post is the Brides of Funkenstein’s Never Buy Texas From a Cowboy (1979).  I realize it would make more sense to begin with their first album, but the second album is fresher, doper, and is the one I have been listening to more often more recently.  The first Brides record heavily leaned up material from the immense stash of unreleased P-Funk and Bootsy material George had stored up.  Not that that is a bad thing.  Whereas, their second release features some new ideas and some new blood.  Suck it down, the record is mighty fine.  Disco funkativity is achieved.  Live in the Funk! It keeps you young.

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The Brides of Funkenstein’s Never Buy Texas From a Cowboy is one of the finest disco funk albums.  Unkut disco funk.  All of the tricks learned by George over the years are put to use on this record.  While it may lack the social critique of Funkadelic and the mythology of Parliament, the music is just as strong as the finest moments of those aforementioned groups.  The album featured an extremely large number of musicians, even for a P-Funk release.  Or perhaps, it seems that way because of the number of new members on the album.

“Never Buy Texas From a Cowboy” opens the record.  An epic 15 minute jam, inspired by Knee Deep, just listen to the synth, “Never Buy Texas From a Cowboy” avoids the painful monotony typical of long dance tracks.  Varied vocals propel the song in a fashion rivaling any other song in the P canon.  Melodies exist autonomously while working together.  Synthesizer keeps it fresh, or at least as fresh as a song reaching a quarter of an hour can maintain.  The sounds of the P are perfected in disco funk form on this album with the results being immediate.

Bernie plays some dignified sounding piano underneath the synth.  The moment at 9:22 is particularly orgasmic.  Synth gets real syrupy at ten minutes.  Hand-claps pervade throughout and interact with the synths and rhythm guitar.  I am assuming that it is Bernie on keys, not as sure about who was manning the guitars (so many people play guitar on this album).    Mixed down shredding represents the Funkadelic portion of the funky stew.  It may not be a guitar album like early Funkadelic, but P-Funk always brings the guitars.  The hard riff first appearing around 2 minutes says “If you ain’t gonna get it on, take your dead ass home!”

“I’m Holding You Responsible” is much shorter than the opening number.  Strings, most likely composed by Bernie, play a prominent role contrasting deep vibrations of the bass.  Horns get some love as well.  However, this song is most of all a showcase for the singers and the strings.

The banshee scream at the beginning of “Smoke Signals” should be warning of impending funkiness.  Bootsy’s space bass is in full effect.  Infectious chants, of various moods, float throughout.  George was a master of layering vocals and rhythms.  One particular trick he loved was throwing solo vocal lines over backing chants.  James Brown may have perfected the use of grunts, moans, and other guttural sounds as sonic elements, but George Clinton twisted the Motown doo wap formula and created liquid crack.  Listen to the sounds extracted so majestically by Bernie at the 5 minutes.  And all while Bootsy slaps away.  George pulls background vocal duties.  Musically, this one doesn’t stray too far allowing the vocals to shine once again.  That was the purpose of the Brides.

The “bustin’ loose” is a reference to Chocolate City Chuck Brown’s “Bustin’ Loose.”  Last note of pure enjoyment: the “Funky” chant at the 4 minute mark.

Mellowness floats in on “Mother May I.”  The variety of percussive instruments is impressive.  Congas, shakers, and one of my favorite supporting instruments, the cuíca, effectively fill space behind the vocals.  The cuíca is responsible for the weird noise, which sometimes sounds like a laugh.  Heavily used in Brazilian music, the cuíca was brought to Brazil by African slaves of Banto origin and has its’ roots in northeastern Africa and even the Iberian peninsula.  It appears in multiple P-Funk songs.  I got a fever and the only prescription is more cuíca!

George again indulges his string fetish.  The horns blow a peaceful line.  Funkadelic pops up with the wailing guitar, which has a moment to ride over  the mix.

The promise of a party is realized on “Party Up in Here.”  The harder, uptempo rhythm with powerful horn lines and driving bass creates  contagious cacophony.  Reviving up the dance groove after the reflective “Mother May I”.  Rhythm guitar is mad nasty.  As is the synth.  Love the phazars.  Space sounds!  Plus, this song has disco drums and an impassioned female vocal.  It gets real funky after the 2:30 mark.  More disco than Betty Davis, but just as raw funky!  Really, the wailing female at the end of the song is a Betty Davis knock-off.  I will have to write a Betty Davis post soon.  A super funky woman.  Best not be nappin’!

A true ballad closes out the “Didn’t Mean to Fall in Love.”  Sounding bland compared to the chaos unleashed earlier, the song threatens to bore; however, excellent singing prevents this from happening.

An underrated hero of the Bride albums, is Ron Dunbar’s assistance as a producer/songwriter.  Penning “Never Buy Texas From a Cowboy” and “Didn’t Mean to Fall in Love,” Ron infused the P with some fresh funk.

Expect a consistent flow of P-Funk posts.  The two month sabbatical was necessary and needed.   But the desire for the P is back.  There are some things I won’t ever give up.  The Funk is one of them.  Bathe in the fountain of youth,  Are you ready to fly tonight?!

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On a last note, this post is Holmesian, or should I say Chenian, in length.  I am unsure how often I can pull out over 1500 words.  That’s a lot of words.  I could be writing novels if I focused my attention differently.  This post, and the upcoming Pt. 1, took some real time.  Will someone, anyone please show a little love.

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17 Responses to “Happy Parliafunkadelicment Thangday! Looking to the Future to Discover the Past (Brides of Funkenstein, Pt. 2)”

  1. Just wanted to say HI. I found your blog a few days ago on Technorati and have been reading it over the past few days.

  2. I finally decided to write a comment on your blog. I just wanted to say good job. I really enjoy reading your posts.

  3. A friend of mine just emailed me one of your articles from a while back. I read that one a few more. Really enjoy your blog. Thanks

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  5. You know, I have to tell you, I really enjoy this blog and the insight from everyone who participates. I find it to be refreshing and very informative. I wish there were more blogs like it. Anyway, I felt it was about time I posted, Ive spent most of my time here just lurking and reading, but today for some reason I just felt compelled to say this.

  6. Hello.

    I like your site and wanted to know if you would be interested in exchanging blogroll links.

    Thanks in advance

  7. Do you do blogroll exchanging? If you want to exchange links let me know.

    Email me back if you’re interested.

  8. Where did you get your blog layout from? I’d like to get one like it for my blog.

  9. Thanks for posting the article, was certainly a great read!

  10. I’ve been reading along for a while now. I just wanted to drop you a comment to say keep up the good work.

  11. I must say this is a great article i enjoyed reading it keep the good work 🙂

  12. Hi,

    I’m just getting started with my new blog. Would you want to exchange links on our blog-rolls?

    BTW – I’m up to about 100 visitors per day.

  13. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

  14. Hello. I was reading someone elses blog and saw you on their blogroll. Would you be interested in exchanging blog roll links? If so, feel free to email me.

    Thanks.

  15. I just stopped by your blog and thought I would say hello. I like your site design. Looking forward to reading more down the road.

  16. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  17. Stumbled across your site while looking for a picture of the “Never Buy Texas” LP. You make some very valid comments about the output of work from the P in the D during the late 70’s – early 80’s. I had the pleasure of catching the this record!

    Nice Review. Thanks.

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