GEORGE CLINTON AND PARLIAMENT
In this short concert video clip, you will see the appearance of the Mothership at one of the highpoints in their performance. It is fun to watch the whole video, but if you must have a spoiler, you can fastforward to 4:30 to see the Mothership appear.
George Clinton was a very big influence in styles of Funk music. He stated that “[i]t was Sly who first cracked the barrier between Black and White (Szatmary). George Clinton's music enfolded over several decades he became known for funk music. Clinton organized a doo-wop group called the Parliaments in 1955, named after the cigarette brand. At first they performed on the streets and then moved to Detroit in 1959. In 1964, the group had a contract with Motown Records where their first hit, “(Wanna) Testify put them on the national stage. But their style was about to change when they were forced to tour, performing with Rock instruments, which made their music sound nothing like thier Motown recordings. Nevertheless, this change opened the door for a new musical approach that distringuished Parliament from other groups. Members of the band studied recordings by Jimi Hendrix, Cream and Sly Stone. The result was a uniquely re-figured, off-beat bass with the cutting sound of electric guitar sexually provocative lyrics and stage theatrics, all of which broke fromtheir musical past at Motown.
You may wonder about other names for the group, such as p-funk or Funkadelic. It turns out that as their visibility increased Clinton and the group were threatened with a law suit over taking the name of the cigarette brand, Parliament. They changed to “funkadelic” and recorded under that name until he reclaimed the band's original name as “Parliament.” In keeping up with changing times and the increasingly theatrical stunts by Rock musicians in concert, Clinton and the band changed presentation to a glittery, surreal kind of presentation. Dressed in leather space suits, over-sized “afro” hair, over-sized glasses and jewel-studded boots, the group developed fantasy characters. Clinton reworked the funk of James Brown into a hybrid of psychedelic culture with raucous spin offs from soul and rock.Even album names like Clones of Dr. Frankenstein (1976), Funkenelechy v. the Placebo (1977) and Flashlight (l978) suggested psychedelic, surreal sound. Though Clinton's following was mostly African American through the 1970s and 1980s, by the 1990s, their following stretched across most races, which was symbolized in their spiritual narratives in performance. Eventually Parliament/Funkadelic was known for its three- to four-hour performances with sets and technical effects, one which was The Mothership, an important metaphor in their complicated “funk cosmology.” The result was a genre of music that fused Psychedelic Rock with Soul and Funk, pushing every boundary in popular music.
The revolutionary style of George Clinton and his band influenced funk-inspired rap bands such as Digital Underground, Dr. Dre and Warren G., while bands like Primus and the Red Hot Chili Peppers have adhered more closely to the original funk-rock sound created by Parliament and Funkadelic.
George Clinton was to Funk what Glam was to Rock. Considered by some as either a black Frank Zappa, or James Brown on acid, depending on how you look at it, the mission of his P-Funk empire was to rescue dance music from the blahs. Undoubtedly, it did just that.
Page Authors: A.E. C.F.