Happy Parliafunkadelicment Presidents’ Thangday, Do You Know Where Your Towel Is?

Happy Parliafunkadelicment Presidents’ Thangday. In honor of the late, great funky president James Brown, today’s P-Funk post will honor James Brown emphasis on the One. James Brown’s obsession with the one had a major impact on the development of funk.  In 1970, James Brown’s band pulled a sit down strike over wages daring James to blink.  Unfortunately for them, the Funky President flew in the Pacesetters, a band Bootsy had formed in 1968 with his brother, Phelps or “Catfish,” Frank “Cash” Waddy, and Philippe Wynne.  Wynne followed the Pacesetters to James Brown and later  joined up with P-Funk empire in 1979.

Bootsy and his crew grew tired of the rigidity of Brown’s system, so they quit in 1971.  Bootsy was playing in Detroit when he was introduced to George Clinton.  Bootsy loved the freedom George offered, and they formed a partnership.  He brought along Catfish and Frank Waddy.  All three contributed to 1972’s America Eats Its’ Young.  Waddy didn’t stick around for much longer.  Nor did Bootsy and Catfish, who took the horn section with them.  They then began touring as  Funkadelic as well, leading to a legal solution that kind of remedied the situation.  Bootsy and Catfish were back in the P-Funk fold by 1974.  It is no coincidence the golden age of Parliament Funkadelic was to follow.  In 1975, they got Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker and a few other members of James Brown band to join up with P-Funk.  The stage was set for the coming of the Mothership.

Today’s post will focus on one of my favorite Parliament albums, The Motor Booty Affair.  Released in 1978, Bootsy, Catfish, and the Horny horns were all involved and the One is heavily emphasized sonically and lyrically.  One of Parliament’s best albums, George and the boys take the Mothership underwater.  It lacks the grime, but makes up for it with liquid funk provided by Bootsy and Bernie.  Bootsy’s bass takes the bottom while Bernie fills everywhere with stylings.  Mr. Wiggles are Rumpofsteelskin are introduced, while Sir Nose D’ Void of Funk and the Clones make appearances.  Rumpofsteelskin is an ally of Sir Nose.  Haters, coming to wreck the party.  Thankfully, Starchild shows up to save the day.

An immense cast of funkateers contributed to this album.  Check below to see who was credited with what.  A huge addition to the P-Funk army for Motor Booty was Rodney “Skeet” Curtis, a bassist who brought the jazz stylings.  Junie, Bootsy, and Bernie’s footprints are massive as well.


Opening the album, we are introduced to”Mr. Wiggles,” a disc jockey, capable of “molecules of wetness like an eel through seeweed,” taking us on a fantastic voyage.  This song has a killer jazz bass line. Listen closely to the opening spoken words, they are beautiful and full of wisdom even if they appear to be gibberish.  George as Mr. Wiggles, and his ladies, bionic slithering idiots, drop in.  Like royalty, they are welcomed with horns.  The rhythm guitar is killer.  Bernie and the Horny Horns come in shortly after and the underwater marathon is on.

The Worm

The bass line, one I have got to learn, is guaranteed to make you move.  Bernie’s straight up piano brings some gravity to the song.  And the rhythm guitar does under-appreciated dirty work.  The drums hold it down, especially the bass drum, while providing a wicked groove of its’ own.  Funkatavity achieved! holds it all down while playing  George spits all kind of nonsense, including some scatting.  Ending with the same spoken words from the beginning, the cycle is complete.

“Rumpofsteelskin” is insane bass thumps, filtered vocals, keyboard chaos, and a whole lot more.  Again, the drums are excellent.  Working in tandem with the bass to establish a bottom,  Bernie has the musical space and gravity needed to explore sonically.  To top it all of, like a cherry on top, it has some cuca.  If you ever doubt Bootsy’s greatness, listen to “Rumpofsteelskin.”  It is not the bass orgy some of his solo songs, specifically “Munchies for Your Love,” are, but here he is front and center, yet just a part of the background.  Poppin’ and thumpin’, Bootzilla is unleashed. GC appears as Starchild.  The horns are pretty buried all song, but add a nice element.

Listening to this album, I am astounded at the number of grooves they were able to pack into a song and still have everything sound so clear and crisp.  Extremely fuzzed out, Funkadelic distortion pops up occasionally underneath, but for all intents and purposes that band is dead on this album.  Instead, we are given a smoothed-out, not smooth jazz smooth, but extremely polished funk.  That is not to mean that the chaos Funkadelic brought is long and forgotten.  You will be hard-pressed to find an album with as much sonically going on as The Motor Booty Affair.

Slowing it down with “(You’re A Fish And I’m A) Water Sign,” a song infected with a lush mellowness. This is partly the result of the horns and partly due to a little less going on.  I guess I would have to describe them as western European classical horns.  Funkadelic fuzz is more present on this one, giving it a sweet spot in my heart.  Some more Bootsy talk is dropped.

Rumbling synth bass drives “Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop).”  Bernie plays some squealing synth above, gorgeous piano, and low end rumbling. His bass riff is reminiscent of “Flashlight,” leaving blown minds in its’ wake.  He even throws in a “Mary Had a Little Lamb” riff at the end.  George does some James Brown and makes strange noises while another member does bird calls.  Bernie is the star of this song, and album, throwing down the high and low, making the classical funky, and taking the human race out beyond the atmosphere to a otherworldly sphere of sound.  Hurray for handclaps!



With the rhythm it takes to dance to what we have to live through
(Underwater boogie baby) You can dance underwater and not get wet.

“Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop)” doesn’t stay in one place for too long, this cut could be way more jammed out.  George Clinton is the lead vocalist, but Garry Shider, Junie Morrison, Ron Ford, and Ray Davis all get featured spots as well.  Lyrically, “Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop)” is brilliant and deserves a little attention, but on another day.

“One Of Those Funky Thangs” has more rumbling from Bernie’s electronics.  The African percussion is a nice organic touch.  There is a really loud bass drum noise.  The underwater warbling vocal is awesome.  You can tell they were having a fun time on this one.  It has a whistle on it, tons of weird sound effects, and a tambourine.  Tambourines are mad funky.  Bernie throws in a “Get Up, Stand Up” riff at the 3:10 mark.

Probably the most annoyingly repetitive song “Liquid Sunshine,” it is still a pretty good song.  It just faces some tough competition.  I love the drums and Mudbone’s vocal.  Plus, the song gets a bit heavy with some Funkadelic guitar.  Junie’s squeling synth gets a little irritating when it is up front for too long.

After the synth of “Liquid Sunshine,” “The Motor-Booty Affair” has a nice, mellow mood to it.    The quiet background vocals are nice.  The pace starts picking up around the 2 minute mark, plateaus for a second, picks it back up building a wicked, sonically complex, groove.  A female talks in a British-infected accent, something GC would utilize more than once.   “The Motor-Booty Affair” has an abundance of vocal components.  Junie does some play-by-play as
Howard Codsell.  The end is nothin’ but a jam with a really picked up pace.

Closing the record, “Deep” opens with drums, rhythm guitar and a growling synth bass.  Horns quickly come in followed by a vocal smorgasbord.  One of the best songs on the album, due to the bass, and rhythm guitar groove, “Deep” has some hilarious, but deep lyrics and great vocal performances.  At the 50 second mark, the groove really takes off.  The female vocals work  well in the mix.  I love the high pitched “deep” followed by the immediate hand clap.  The groove that builds near the 3 minute mark is spine-tingling.  Synth bass is still rumbling underneath, but the liquid guitar washes over it.  It sounds like Bernie is playing the synth bass.  One of the vocals sounds like Marvin Martian.  Batman’s riff pops in at one point, as the females jump all around underneath.

“Deep” is so deep that it slows time down, as your neurons try to process the sonic assault.  I can only imagine the effect at a live show.  By the end you have been hit with a funkatomic bomb.  Think they can’t possibly add more layers, and something new is thrown into the mix.  I was unable to count how many different vocal parts were going on at times.  If I only had a high-fi system.  Somehow, they weren’t spent after the already incredibly run of albums and had enough brain juice to create some more funky produce.

A critic on the Motherpage insists the bass is a synth.  I don’t agree, at least not entirely.  It certainly sounds like bass synth at times, but there is some electric bass to go with it.  Listen closely at the beginning and you will hear what sound like a string being muted at the 16 second mark.  Then a synth bass comes in, which is enhanced by electric bass I think.  I will ask my sound scientist friend tomorrow what he thinks, but I am sure I detect electric and synth bass.  Some of the builds sound way too much like a electric bass to be  synth bass, just in the way the pattern comes off.  If not, whoever it was did one of the best jobs I’ve heard of making synth bass sound like an electric.

The studio is a extremely element to the The Motor Booty Affair‘s layered, effected-out sound.  Vocals are masked in all kinds of ways, often at the same time.  You are going to need a significant amount of listens to pick out all the elements of the groove .  Rhythm guitar and drums are the most under-appreciated elements of the record, but without that center none of the other madness would work. Lyrically The Motor Booty Affair is brilliant.  Full of puns, The Motor Booty Affair also gets deep laying out some of the funk philosophy and alternative universe.  It never strays from the aquatic theme.  P-Funk was already a concept band; however, Motor Booty was originally intended as a soundtrack release for a Motor Booty movie, according to the Motherpage.

The Motor Booty Affair is only one example of P-Funk’s electronically enhanced, sci-fi primal futurism.  Recorded in Detroit, also home to other works of electronically enhanced sci-fi primal futurism art, like techno or Robocop, which was dreamed up by a denizen, according to my very knowledgeable uncle, of closely located Ann Arbor. Obviously, Detroit is the inspiration for the setting of the Robocop concept.

Is it a coincidence, that these disparate but I think not.  It’s in the delicious water.  There must be the right mix of chemicals.  Certainly, Motown being a center of the industrial revolution plays a big part in the historical spirit projected onto those born in the area.  It would be kind of hard to dream up an idea of Robocop coming from a rural town.  All of the garage rock was a product of the large amount of working class individuals due to the auto plants.  The kind of people who like to get down and party to loud, dirty guitar riffs and alcohol.  In addition to MC5, the Stooges, Funkadelic, and Alice Cooper, the Motor City produced some of the earliest, finest, black rock, like Black Merda and the Black Nazty’s.

Motown utilized Henry Ford’s assembly-line idea to produce an immense amount of music.  He even catered the music to a certain audience that he knew had money and an inkling to listen to rhythm music that wasn’t overtly black.  Techno came about during the Reagan years, which also helped spawn hip hop.  I am trying to think of what was responsible for the grunge era, and am currently struggling with an answer.  Ghettotech became big during the Bush II years, another bad time for most Americans, especially the lower classes.  Ghettotech’s emphasis on the obvious fit withn the larger cultural pattern of even more dumbing down.


Who’s ready for a swim?  Butt out Towlie, we ain’t getting wet.

On a last note, I figured T-Pain’s vocoder reign would have died down by this point.  At least, to some degree.  The man can’t really rap or sing, so he combines his multi-talented mediocirity with vocal effects .  Granted, he can write some catchy songs.  More importantly, he is hilarious with his simple lyrics, love of top hats, and also fairly mediocre dancing.  T-Pain’s success shouldn’t be surprising.  America loves mediocrity and autotuning keeps the dream of entertanment success alive for mediocre singers, who are generally attractive, younger females.  Older record executives can dream can’t they?  The money, power, and access helps them realize that dream.

Anyways, all of the T-Pain talk is sparked by seeing a new T-Pain song, ” on a music critic’s top 2008 singles list.  To be fair, T-Pain has made his own way, which is respectable. A few of his songs were guilty pleasures

Anyways, just be funky for funk’s sake.  It is the essence of creation.

Here is the track listing and album credits.  You can peep the lyrics at http://www.duke.edu/~tmc/motherpage/lyrics_parliament/lyr-motorbooty.html#lyr-s-rumpofsteelskin

Track Listing:

Mr. Wiggles
{G Clinton, W Collins, Michael Hampton}  6:43  lyrics
{G Clinton, W Collins}  5:34  lyrics
(You’re a Fish and I’m a) Water Sign
{G Clinton, Garry Shider, JS Theracon, Richard Griffith}  4:41  lyrics
Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadolop)
{G Clinton, W Collins, B Worrell}  6:40  lyrics
One of Those Funky Thangs
{G Clinton, R Banks}  3:45  lyrics
Liquid Sunshine
{G Clinton, Linda Brown, Jim Vitti, Bob Bishop}  4:22  lyrics
Motor-Booty Affair
{G Clinton, JS Theracon, Ron Ford, Garry Shider}  5:14  lyrics
{W Collins, JS Theracon, G Clinton}  9:09  lyrics


“Snorkle Singing Air Tank Harmonics”:
“Jaws”: George Clinton, Garry Shider, J.S. Theracon, Gary “Bone” Cooper,
Ron Ford, Ray Davis, Bernie Worrell

“The Choral Reef(er, Bubbly Vocalizations)”: Debbie Wright,
Jeanette Washington, Mallia Franklin, Shirley Hayden, Cheryl James,
Lynn Mabry, Dawn Silva, Linda Brown, Richard “Kush” Griffith,
Raymond Spruell, Mike “Clip” Payne, Joey Zalabok, and
Robert “P-Nut” Johnson, Larry Heckstall, Overton Loyd

“Liquid Licks (Motor-Madness Musicians)”:
Guitar: Mike Hampton, Garry Shider, J.S. Theracon, Phelps “Catfish” Collins,
Bootsy Collins
Bass: Cordell “Boogie” Mosson, Bootsy Collins, Rodney “Skeet” Curtis,
J.S. Theracon
Drums: Tyrone Lampkin, Bootsy Collins, Gary “Bone” Cooper, J.S. Theracon
Percussion: Larry Fratangelo
Horns: Fred Wesley, Richard “Kush” Griffith, Maceo Parker, Rick Gardner,
Greg Boyer, Greg Thomas, Benny Cowan

“Mr. Wiggles”
Lead Vocal: George Clinton

“Aqua Boogie”
Lead Vocal: George Clinton
Alternating Featured Vocals: Garry Shider, Junie Morrison, Ron Ford,
Ray Davis
Bird Calls: Raymond Spruell
Drums: Gary “Mudbone” Cooper

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: