Let’s talk about the 2010s albums - specifically the two that were released under the names Parliament and Funkadelic. I’m going to start with 2014’s First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate.
The reviews online are typically very poor. Yet, there are also hardcore funkateers who seem to eat up everything George and the mob release. I’m more in the middle - as a completist and as someone who wanted to really absorb everything that has been released, there was no way I wasn’t going to buy this. And it was jarring at first, but at the same time, I feel that there’s enough there to warrant further listening.
Typically when I acquire a new album, it goes into “rotation” with other recent purchases and I just keep listening to it until I feel I’ve gotten everything out of it that I can. Everything gets at least three. Some albums in the p-funk lexicon have dropped off after 4, 5, 6 listens, but for the most part I am 9 listens in, with no signs of stopping yet. Including First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate.
So, I like it, and it interests me, but I do have problems with it.
For starters, it appears that George is really continuing the process of transitioning the names Parliament and Funkadelic away from himself and onto other members. I took a look at the somewriting credits and added up all the work that was done on this album - anything that had one writer, that writer was given 100% of the credit. With two writers, it was split 70/30. Three writers split 50/30/20. Four writers 40/30/20/10. I concluded that George was responsible for about 40% of the writing on this album. That’s very low for something with the name Funkadelic on it, isn’t it? It may be more appropriate to call this a PFAS album than a Funkadelic album (a criticism I had seen online prior to even hearing this album).
The other concern I have with it is that it’s so disjointed. It doesn’t seem to have a really coherent flow. It feels like a bunch of random tracks thrown together. Let me start this part by saying that, a) I like hip-hop a lot, b) I completely realize that hip-hop is the natural direction for p-funk to take and that it did indeed start showing signs of heading that way even by Trombipulation. So it shouldn’t surprise me, or turn me off, that this album is so hip-hop oriented. Yet, sometimes it still does. Tracks like I Mo B Your Dog 4 Eva, Homicide, Meow Meow, and Nuclear Dog Part 2, just bear no resemblance to P-funk at all to me, and just feel like straight up hip-hop tacked onto what should be a more guitar-based funk album.
Nothing can be described in black-and-white terms, and there are many elements of many styles in many songs, but it almost seems like this album is a combination of three distinct styles: 1) 90s P-funk in the Dope Dogs vein, 2) programmed, often overtly sexual hip-hop, 3) smooth R&B with a soulful, gravely vocalist. There are three very full CDs worth of material in these 34 songs (34 includes both Homicide and Yesterdejavu), and if you simply reorganized them into three separate albums you would have potentially three winning formulas that don’t get in eachothers’ way:
- First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate by Funkadelic
Ain’t that kinda funkin hard on you 5:07
Baby Like funkin’ It Up 9:35
Boom There We Go Again 2:55
Catchin’ Boogie Fever 5:56
First Ya Gotta 9:05
Old Fool 3:32
Pole Power 7:00
Radio Friendly 6:16
Talking To The Wall 4:43
approximately 79 minutes total, fitting on one CD. Critics would call it an excellent return by Funkadelic, and a great expansion to what was started on Dope Dog.
- George Clinton - (insert title here, perhaps a reference to R&B skeletons).
As In 6:48
Dipety Dipety Do Stop the Violence 5:16
If I Didn’t Love You 4:00
Mathematics Of Love 12:08
Where Would I Go 4:26
You Can’t Unring the Bell 3:00
The Wall 9:08
The Naz 5:37
Roller Rink 11:34
Approximately 62 minutes in total. Critics would say it’s very reminiscent of 2009’s Gangsters of Love, and gets a little more adventurous and interesting times, but also drags on unnecessarily at times. His gravelly, soulful voice would be praised as a great reinvention of himself as a singer.
- P-Funk all Stars - (insert title here) - produced by George Clinton
I Mo B Yodog Fo Eva
In Da Kar
Not your Average Rapper
Nuclear Dog part II
Snot 'N Booger
72 mintues in total. No huge expectations here, just a glimpse of what George’s proteges are capable of under his tutelage. Mostly hip-hop that is too far away from p-funk roots to fit anywhere else, plus Dirty Queen which is easily the most out-of-place song on the entire 3 CDs. There’s lots to like on this album, but having it all in one place keeps it from making the flow established by the other styles seem disjointed.
What are your thoughts? I will follow up tonight or tomorrow with some ideas about Medicaid Fraud Dogg.