Monday, March 9, 2015
Funkadelic were qualified to satisfy and played with our emotions on this other worldly smoke screen dedicated to the feeling of good. The group began in 1964 as the backing band of Frankie Boyce, Richard Boyce, and Langston Booth for George Clinton's doo wop group The Parliaments; but after the trio went into the Army in 1966, Clinton brought in Billy Bass Nelson and guitarist Eddie Hazel.
Nelson reveals: "I started with George and them in the barbershop. So, it goes back that far...I was like an employee, you know? George processed hair and I assisted in part of that where I would wash people's hair and get them ready for George to style them. I always played guitar. I just kept on playing and listening to them rehearse in the barbershop—The Parliaments. So, I kept on bringing my guitar around, practicing with them and with the jukebox I got so good I could play whatever came on. I'd try to figure out the cords or whatever, you know? I tried to get it together right there in the barbershop...A lot of people used to hang out in that barber shop 'cause it was definitely a popular place to be. In most barbershops the barbers talk about everything that's going on in town but by the time it got to George's shop, man, that was like you know? The energy was intense and for the young people and the only place to be. They had to decide whether they would go home or not. I was deep in the barbershop. To do that and survive was rough as hell in itself but then we all grew up in it like Gary Shider, Eddy Hazel, Terrell Ross, Boogy, Cardel Mossen and his brothers. As we were kids growing up they all had their own bands. Eddy and me really weren't the first band for the Parliaments. I think the band that would have gone out with George in '67 when they had their hit record "Testify" was a group of brothers called Jo-Jo and the Admirers. They were like a Jackson Five group. But, it was the Vietnam War time and they all got drafted...Anywhere between actually '67 and '68. The Parliament had a hit record. They were all hanging around George in the barbershop 'cause they were always going back and forth to Detroit. George and the band was recording at Motown and playing in New York. I was working with a song writing team there in Plainfield and out there at Motown too... I guess George knew. He probably knew well enough to kiss that damned barbershop shit goodbye. Then, after we were out there doing the gigs during the summer of '67 like by '68 we knew what was happening. We were on by then. We had become pretty much accepted as the Parliament but we were thought of as the back-up band and we got sick and damned tired of being called that, and we came up with the name Funkadelics and the rest is history...It came out of a conversation. We were talking on the way to a gig back in probably the last part of '68 because the Funkadelics didn't emerge until '69 so you know, that's where it came from."
The Parliaments had a hit with "(I Wanna) Testify" on Revilot Records. The song went to number twenty on the pop chart and number three on the R&B chart. Because of a dispute with the label, which owned the rights to the name "The Parliaments", the group started to call themselves Funkadelic.
Clinton considers: "In the sixties, I worked at Jobbed, which was Motown and published the Motown song writing. I was also doing promotion at the same time. So, it happened that our first record Testify was very much like the Motown songs and musicians. When we got out there on the road we used our own band and the songs started sounding like the Funkadelic's first records. We did that stuff from '66 to '73 and then we did "Up For The Downstroke" and that began to take on the James Brown group because we had Bootsie in the band. By then Fred Weston and Macio and all of the Horney Horns so we had that James Brown kind of coloring. That's when it changed into a theatrical kind of jazz...Well, funk is anything you need it to be at any given time. It's something that saves your life, or it's an attitude, or it's that attitude that helps save your life when you feel like it's not worth it anymore. You get to a place where you just want to jump out the window. Funk is that comical voice that come to you and says, "Why brother, ain't anybody gonna miss you." It's an attitude. It's whatever it needs to be at any given time. That's the way I look at it. Funk is really all music. It's the attitude that helps people to change and do new music even though my bag might have been something else. It can be anything with that beat...It has a lot of meanings but like dark, damp places like the womb or then you have the sweaty jazz dens that are funky. I don't know but it may have something to do with radio in Germany. Telefunken, funk. But it's been in the jazz music scene for a long time and it means hanging very lose and very sweaty again. It always leads to that...Loosely, yeah just playing lose and jamming, grooving, the simplest form of making music which is probably the first. You know there's beating on a tree trunk with a stick, which is very funky. That's why rap is so funky, because they take somebody else's record and just scratch it around. You know (when) you can't afford instruments, you scratch and start rapping to it. That's a very funky rhythm...It always ends up brand new. It starts off very simple but according to the person's creativity, the one who's doing it, it always ends up into something brand new of its own...There were a lot of groups doing rock 'n roll: Sly (and the Family Stone), The Chambers Brothers but we were like all of it all at once. We were like Motown, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Eric Clapton, The Beatles. We were all of them at once ... When we started doing Funkadelic we were too black for white folks and too white for black folks. But the fans that liked us and they stayed close to us, and that's always been the trip all these years, because they still stay with us even now, and meanwhile it just keeps getting bigger and bigger for us. But yeah, after that period, I think it was in the 70s anyway that we really caught on, with The Mothership arriving, and that was a whole 'nother thing."
'Funkadelic' was recorded at Tera Shirma Sound Studios in Detroit, Michigan and features George Clinton on vocals; Eddie Hazel on lead guitar and vocals; Lucius "Tawl" Ross on rhythm guitar and vocals; Ramon "Tiki" Fulwood on drums; and Billy "Bass" Nelson on bass and vocals; with Ray Monette doing guitar on "I Got a Thing"; Bob Babbitt bustin' out ther bass on "I Bet You"; Mickey Atkins operating organ on "Mommy, What's a Funkadelic?"; Bernie Worrell with organ on "I Got a Thing"; Earl Van Dyke kickin' keyboards on "I Bet You"; Brad Innis doing drums on "Music for My Mother"; Gasper Lawal contributing conga on "Music for My Mother"; Herb Sparkman on lead vocals for "Music for My Mother"; Clarence "Fuzzy" Haskins on lead vocals for "I Got a Thing"; Calvin Simon on lead vocals for "Qualify and Satisfy"; and additional vocals by Ray Davis, Grady Thomas, and Hot Buttered Soul. The sessions were produced by George Clinton with engineering by Milan Bogden, Russ Terrana, Ed Wolfrum, and Bryan Dombrowski.
'Funkadelic' reached one hundred and twenty-six on the US album chart and number eight on the R&B album chart.
"I Got A Thing"
"Mommy, What's a Funkadelic?" (George Clinton) - 9:04
"I Bet You" (Clinton, Patrick Lindsey, Sidney Barnes) - 6:10
"Music for My Mother" (Clinton, Eddie Hazel, Billy Nelson) - 5:37
"I Got a Thing, You Got a Thing, Everybody's Got a Thing" (Clarence Haskins) - 3:52
"Good Old Music" (Clinton) - 7:59
"Qualify and Satisfy" (Clinton, Nelson, Hazel) - 6:15
"What Is Soul" (Clinton) - 7:40
"Can't Shake It Loose" (Clinton, Barnes, Joanne Jackson, Rose Marie McCoy) - 2:28
"I Bet You" (Clinton, Lindsey, Barnes) - 4:10
"Music for My Mother" (Clinton, Hazel, Nelson) - 5:17
"As Good as I Can Feel" (Clinton, Haskins) - 2:31
"Open Our Eyes" (Leon Lumpkins) - 3:58
"Qualify and Satisfy" (Clinton, Nelson, Hazel) - 3:00
"Music for My Mother" (Clinton, Hazel, Nelson) - 6:14