"A Parliafunkadelicment Thang"
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The P-Funk story began in 1956 in Plainfield, New Jersey, with a doo-wop group formed by fifteen-year-old George Clinton. This was The Parliaments, a name inspired by Parliament cigarettes. By the early 1960s, the group had solidified into the five-man lineup of Clinton, Ray "Stingray" Davis, Clarence "Fuzzy" Haskins, Calvin Simon and Grady Thomas. Later, the group rehearsed in a barbershop partially owned by Clinton and entertained the customers. The Parliaments finally achieved a hit single in 1967 with "(I Wanna) Testify" while Clinton began commuting to Detroit as a songwriter and producer for Motown Records.
Due to continuing contractual problems and the fact that Funkadelic releases were more successful at the time, Clinton abandoned the name Parliament until 1974. Following Osmium, the lineup of Parliament-Funkadelic began going through many changes and was expanded significantly, with the addition of important members such as keyboardist Bernie Worrell in 1970, singer/guitarist Garry Shider in 1971, and bassist Bootsy Collins (recruited from the James Brown backing band) in 1972. Dozens of singers and musicians would contribute to future Parliament-Funkadelic releases. Clinton relaunched Parliament in 1974 and signed the act to Casablanca Records. Parliament, now augmented by the Horny Horns (also recruited from James Brown's band) was positioned as a smoother R&B-based funk ensemble with intricate horn and vocal arrangements, and as a counterpoint to the guitar-based funk-rock of Funkadelic. By this point, Parliament and Funkadelic were touring as a combined entity known as Parliament-Funkadelic or simply P-Funk .
The album Up for the Down Stroke was released in 1974, with Chocolate City following in 1975. Both performed strongly on the Billboard R&B charts and were moderately successful on the Pop charts. Parliament began its period of greatest mainstream success with the concept album Mothership Connection (1975), the lyrics of which launched much of the P-Funk mythology.
The subsequent albums The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein (1976), Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome (1977), and Motor Booty Affair (1978) all reached high on both the R&B and Pop charts, while Funkadelic was also experiencing significant mainstream success. Parliament scored the #1 R&B singles "Flash Light" in 1977 and "Aqua Boogie" in 1978.
The rapidly expanding ensemble of musicians and singers in the Parliament-Funkadelic enterprise, as well as Clinton's problematic management practices, began to take their toll by the late 1970s. Original Parliaments members Fuzzy Haskins, Calvin Simon, and Grady Thomas, who had been with Clinton since the barbershop days in the late 1950s, felt marginalized by the continuous influx of new members and departed acrimoniously in 1977. Other important group members like singer/guitarist Glenn Goins and drummer Jerome Brailey left Parliament-Funkadelic in the late 1970s after disputes over Clinton's management. Two further Parliament albums, Gloryhallastoopid (1979) and Trombipulation (1980) were less successful than the albums from the group's prime 1975-1978 period.
In the early 1980s, with legal difficulties arising from the multiple names used by multiple groups, as well as a shakeup at Casablanca Records, George Clinton dissolved Parliament and Funkadelic as recording and touring entities. However, many of the musicians in later versions of the two groups remained employed by Clinton. Clinton continued to release new albums regularly, sometimes under his own name and sometimes under the name George Clinton & the P-Funk All-Stars. The P-Funk All-Stars continued to record and tour into the 1990s and 2000s, and regularly perform classic Parliament songs.
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Kicking off with one of prime funk's purest distillations -- the outrageously great title track, with a perfect party chorus line and uncredited horns adding to the monster beat and bass -- Up for the Down Stroke finds Parliament in rude good health. As was more or less the case through the '70s, Parliament took a slightly more listener-friendly turn here than they did as Funkadelic, but often it's a difference by degrees. Just listening to some of Bernie Worrell's insane keyboard parts or Bootsy Collins' bass work here is enough to wake the dead. Slightly more oddball is "All Your Goodies Are Gone," which has a bit more upfront bite and some downright strange lyrics, delivered with a stoned, breathless tone and backed by unearthly choir arrangements. Eddie Hazel is still listed as present and contributing, he co-writes two of the songs; it's a pity "The Goose" runs out of steam toward the midpoint of its nine minutes, but it makes for pleasant background music if not Parliament at its unfettered best. In the meantime, Clinton and various familiar voices like Fuzzy Haskins and Grady Thomas keep the weird wigginess of the lyrics flowing. In a nod to the group's past, "(I Wanna) Testify," here simply called "Testify," gets a 1974-era work over.
Parliament - Up For The Down Stroke ( 242mb)
01 Up For The Down Stroke 5:08
02 Testify 3:46
03 The Goose 9:10
04 I Can Move You (If You Let Me) 2:44
05 I Just Got Back 4:30
06 All Your Goodies Are Gone 5:04
07 Whatever Makes Baby Feel Good 5:57
08 Presence Of A Brain 3:19
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Parliament's second album for Casablanca, following Up for the Down Stroke (1974), Chocolate City isn't one of the group's better-known albums. Unlike its predecessor and successive albums such as Mothership Connection (1976), it lacks a signature hit; even though the title track and "Ride On" charted as singles, they're minor in comparison to definitive classics such as "Up for the Down Stroke" and "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)." Though it's not one of the better-known Parliament albums, Chocolate City is nonetheless one of their best and perhaps most underrated. There's a wealth of musical talent to be heard here -- most notably Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell, and Eddie Hazel -- and an emphasis on horns and harmony vocals. Plus, there's no overarching narrative as there would be on successive albums, occasionally to a fault. Instead, this is a collection of stand-alone songs, none topping the six-minute mark. Regardless of its lack of signature hits, Chocolate City is a Parliament album that shouldn't be overlooked.
Parliament - Chocolate City (234mb)
01 Chocolate City 5:37
02 Ride On 3:34
03 Together 4:07
04 Side Effects 3:13
05 What Comes Funky 2:23
06 Let Me Be 5:37
07 If I Don't Fit (Don't Force It) 2:07
08 I Misjudged You 5:14
09 Big Footin' 4:50
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The definitive Parliament-Funkadelic album, Mothership Connection is where George Clinton's revolving band lineups, differing musical approaches, and increasingly thematic album statements reached an ideal state, one that resulted in enormous commercial success as well as a timeless legacy that would be compounded by hip-hop postmodernists, most memorably Dr. Dre on his landmark album The Chronic (1992). The musical lineup assembled for Mothership Connection is peerless: in addition to keyboard wizard Bernie Worrell; Bootsy Collins, who plays not only bass but also drums and guitar; the guitar trio of Gary Shider, Michael Hampton, and Glen Goins; and the Becker brothers (Michael
and Randy) on horns; there are former J.B.'s Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker (also on horns), who were the latest additions to the P-Funk stable. Besides the dazzling array of musicians, Mothership Connection boasts a trio of hands-down classics -- "P-Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up)," "Mothership Connection (Star Child)," "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)" -- that are among the best to ever arise from the funk era, each sampled and interpolated time and time again by rap producers; in particular, Dr. Dre pays homage to the former two on The Chronic (on "The Roach" and "Let Me Ride," respectively). The remaining four songs on Mothership Connection are all great also, if less canonical. Lastly, there's the overlapping outer-space theme, which ties the album together into a loose escapist narrative. There's no better starting point in the enormous P-Funk catalog than Mothership Connection, which, like its trio of classic songs, is undoubtedly among the best of the funk era.
Parliament - Mothership Connection (246mb)
01 P. Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up) 7:41
02 Mothership Connection (Star Child) 6:13
03 Unfunky UFO 4:23
04 Supergroovalisticprosifunkstication 5:03
05 Handcuffs 3:51
06 Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker) 5:46
07 Night Of The Thumpasorus Peoples 5:10
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