Happy Parliafunkadelicment Thangday! (Beware Loopzilla is on the Prowl)

Belated Happy Parliafunkadelicment Thangday!  I can be real bad at sticking on task when it comes to the Funk.  My inner historian says to follow a traditional linear model, but my spirit is not always willing.  Not all P-Funk is good, so some of it I only listen to for utilitarian purposes.  Just like with zombie movies, sometimes you just have to suffer through the wretched in order to archive everything.  But if the music doesn’t have IT, so it doesn’t move me, and with the wealth of material that brings me joy, there is no reason to currently suffer through the mediocre or worse.  That is reserved for plumbing the depths of zombiedom.  So for now I will just write reviews and overviews for whatever P I am feeling at the time.  Computer Games really grabbed me this past weekend, so today I offer it as the funk sacrament.

The start of the 1980s had been disastrous for George and the Parliament Funkadelic empire.  Funkadelic was on the Warner Brothers label, and George was battling them about the next record.  He wanted a double disc, while the WB wanted one.  George was also heavily into freebasing at the time, which was probably not helped when Sly Stone joined P-Funk.

GC was also his own label, Uncle Jam, and was negotiating a distribution deal on CBS.  However, a battle between the WB and CBS broke out over Roger Troutman/Zapp’s solo record, which had been produced by George and financed by Uncle Jam.  Troutman sold the recordings to the WB, which was the straw that broke the P-Funk empire.  This act of betrayal also ended the professional relationship between GC and Roger T, and GC and the WB.  He was also being sued by original Parliament members over the right to the Parliament name.  Yet George pulled through, to release a solo record with the help of some old friends, including Bernie, Junie, Bootsy, Eddie, Starchild, Kush, and Fred.

gclinton-cgames-ft1

George Clinton’s Computer Games (1982), GC’s first “solo”  album, is also his best.  Much of his other 80s work is marred by drum machines and synthesizers.  The stripped-down, overly repetitive electronic work didn’t mesh so well.  Still, GC was experimenting and wrote some strong songs, even if they were taken to the woodshed by the electronic emphasis.  Computer Games emphasized synths and drum machines more than previous P releases, but avoids the ghastliness of later recordings from the decade.  Get ready for some of the finest electro-funk handed down from the muse.

“Get Dressed” serves as more than satisfactory intro.  P-Funk understood the importance of opening strong.  In classic P-Funk style, the horns announce the arrival of funkativity like they announced royalty in the past.  George illuminates on the backstage and its’ importance to the show.  A good show starts in the dressing room, and works its way to the stage.’ George was known for his pre-game antics, including once being caught with two girls in a bathroom stall when he was supposed to running the show.  Bootsy throws down a mean bass.  A perfect segue into “Man’s Best Friend/Loopzilla.”

On “Man’s Best Friend/Loopzilla,” GC takes a bunch of toys out for a spin.  One of many good vocal performances courtesy George, it is one of P’s craziest concoctions.  Featuring shout outs to radio stations and Afrika Bambaata  An electropulsating beast of a beat, “Loopzilla” is a black hole sound sucker.  It is the loop that can’t be tamed, like the gluttony of Augustus Gloop.  The gang throws portions of old music at the insatiable force, but the grooves crash and collapse at the sound of opaque beast.

gloop

Yes, I do believe that Augustus Gloop could outeat Takeru “The Tsunami” Kobayashi.  Perhaps not in a sprint, but Gloopenstein, nicknamed this because a mad scientist selectively breed his parents for their eating abilities in a Frankensteinien experiment, is built for the food marathon not the 100.  Sure he can eat fast, but most importantly he can lots.  John Madden’s turducken would be devoured in a mere minutes.  Big John’s corpse on the other hand would take a little harder to get down.  As does the next track on Computer Games.

“Pot Sharing Tots” begins with a nice riff, but is the weakest cut on the album.  Certainly silly, at times a bit annoying, and extremely childish through and through, it sounds like something Ween would record in their excellent spoofing/re-imagining way.  Despite its’ flaws, I still like this song because of the music accompaniment, which is mellow.  Perhaps, my judgement is clouded by the knowledge of what would be released in the near future.

“Computer Games” has a good bass riff, Funkadelic guitar, solid drumming, and plus a little bit of Bernie at the end.  Great old-school video game sounds, like the Koopa Troopa jumping sound, are thrown liberally around the mix.  George really does sound insane on this one delivering a witty lyrics.  GC was a man ahead of his time, and this song and its’ content is evidence of that.

“Atomic Dog” might be up to the challenge of facing Loopzilla.  Great singing by everyone, great playing by everyone.  And sampled by everyone, probably even the extraterrestrial life out in the cosmos (George, Bernie, Bootsy, Sun Ra, and some others flew in from somewhere.  Utilizing the power of the handclap, an addictive rhythm is created, allowing Bernie to explore the sounds between notes like few can.  One of the finest synth-funk numbers heard by humankind.  George allegedly ad-libbed all the lyrics over a track going in reverse during a sessions in Detroit.  Gary Schider and David Chong added some arrangements, and a hit was spawned.

clintongoggles

http://www.divshare.com/download/6259521-921

“Atomic Dog,” overthrew Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” and topped the Billboard R&B charts on April 16, 1983 where it remained for four weeks.  It peaked at #101 on the pop charts. “Loopzilla” was the first single released off the album, landed in the top 20.  The music video for “Atomic Dog” is dope.  You can watch it on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuyS9M8T03A&feature=related or download it here http://www.divshare.com/download/6259275-ea9

“Free Alterations” has some of the same vibe but is a better song than “Pot Sharing Tots.”  “Free Alterations” compares tailoring to changing people.  Nothing special, but a solid penultimate number.  An album can only have so many monster cuts.

Junie is responsible for the arrangement of “One Fun of a Time,” which spotlights George’s vocals.  Closing the album, it might seem underwhelming, especially compared to the beginning; however, “One Fun of a Time” is hearty tune.

As I stated before, Computer Games is GC’s best solo release.  Featuring the electronic madness of “Loopzilla” and synth-bass monster “Atomic Dog” plus a few other funky fresh songs and no real stinkers (hurray, no horrible ballad attempts), it a must own.  Plus, Pedro Bell’s artwork is eye-catching.  George’s crew was smaller than usual, although an exceptionally large number of vocalists appear, but in the aftermath of the Parliafunkadelicment Thang collapse thinning was inevitable.  The amazing run was over, but George and the others still had plenty to deliver.

Here is the credited personnel.

Bass: Bootsy Collins
Keyboards: Junie Morrison, Bernie Worrell
Horns: Fred Wesley, Larry Hatcher, Maceo Parker, Richard Griffith
Synth: David Chong, Rahni Harris
Drums: Dennis Chambers, Terry Jones
Percussion: Maruga Booker, Larry Fratangelo
Guitar: Eddie Hazel, Tony “Strat” Thomas
Vocals: Garry Shider, George Bunny, Robert Johnson, Michael Payne,
Gary Cooper, Ray Davis, Jessica Cleaves, Larry Heckstall, Mallia Franklin,
Queen of Funk, Darryl Clinton, Tracey Lewis, Mutha Funkenstein,
Dawn Silva, Sheila Horne, Jeanette McGruder, Lynn Mabry, Shirley Hayden,
Janice Evans, Carol Myles, Jimmy Keaton, Vanessa Poe, Ron Ford,
Arneta Walker, Joyce Pearson, Gwendolyn Dozier, Trina Frazier,
Carmen McGee, Brenda Forman, Veronica Faust, Jessie Driscoll,
Julius Keaton, Gail Owens, Cynthia Girty, Eddie Hodge, George Clinton

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One Response to “Happy Parliafunkadelicment Thangday! (Beware Loopzilla is on the Prowl)”

  1. ted tunney Says:

    I dont agree that the use of dr machines etc.were a bad thing and i dont thin that computer games was the best solo album. Upon a recent listen i found myself loving all of the solo stuff. R&b skeltons to me was the worst and now I am desperate to have a copy of it. “Smell my finger” was also my favorite puting gc into the creative forefront again, smoking the competition. thanks for keepin it funky

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