Mommy what's a Funkadelic?
Well you know what they say about stupid questions? So we'll ignore that and tell you instead what's a Funkadelic compilation. Oh yes, 29 tracks - in this case odd is most definitely better than even - of undiluted excessive but somehow beautiful funkiness, courtesy of the seminal Westbound Recordings of George Clinton's funky rock band. George's biggest hits might have come towards the end of the 70s on Warner Brothers, and in the early 80s on Capitol, but he defined what he was all about at the Detroit label in the early to mid 70s. He recorded a series of albums that took rock, soul and funk, blended them with a self mythologizing, drug-fuelled aura, and came out with one of the most influential catalogues in rock'n'roll.
So is this a Best Of? Well sort of, but not in a gather-in-the-singles-and-put-them-in-date-order sort of way. Instead what is here is an overview that explores the furthest reaches of Funkadelic's Westbound catalogue, pulling out the obscure but mighty album cuts to go alongside the established hits and acknowledged classics. These recordings are a wonderful insight into what can be done with a touch of faith, unlimited studio time and a pinch of crazed musical genius.
Both sides kick off with Funkadelic at its wildest, on long extended tracks, side 1 with Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow and side 2 with Maggot Brain, recently nominated by Mojo magazine as one of the Top 5 greatest guitar solos in rock - for Eddie Hazel's acid-fried virtuosity. Side 1 then kicks into Red Hot Mama - more inspired Hazel - and a run of quick fire up-tempo grooves that show that whatever was going on, and often it was quite a lot. George C and his team could always nail a good tune. We've run through Standing On the Verge.., Cosmic Slop, Better By The Pound, the mighty Loose Booty and others before we take it out through the plain dirty Sexy Ways and the odder, more left of field sort of things that define the edge that George was looking for.
Side 2 progresses from Maggot Brain into what is the fairly unknown I'll Stay, a beautiful slice of space soul, recently covered by trumpeter Roy Hargrove who used the vocals of D'Angelo. Side 1 is a slightly off-kilter affair with the songs taking the influences of blues, folk and even country before heading back to the more normal twisted funk of Be My Beach and their ilk, via the greatest blaxploitation theme that wasn't - A Joyful Process.
So, without wanting to sound too much like a used car salesman, you know it's time to do the Cosmic Slop!
by Dean Rudland