By Way Of The Drum (Pedro Bell album cover version)

In Roctober #11 interview with Pedro Bell, he talks about work on the album cover of By Way of the Drum. (Arthur Magazine transcription from 2004)

PB: Well, masks-masks… it’s funny you should mention masks, because the last Funkadelic album, called “By Way Of The Drum”, I designed a mask for that, it’s a combination of low tech and high tech. It’s never been released. “By Way Of The Drum” was actually the world’s oldest unpublished Funkadelic album. I started in 1982, I finished in 1989, it hasn’t been released yet.

RL: There was a promotional 12" that had the song “By Way of the Drum” released about 1989 or 90.

PB: yeah, but it was released without their permission. It was a standard (no art) sleeve.

Interestingly, there is a very low quality, black-and-white version of the album cover in the margins. It looks more interesting and on-brand than the 2007 album cover. Too bad it’s not in color. Has anyone ever seen a color version? I tried asking the Roctober editor, but didn’t get a response back.

Pedro also mentioned the album cover in an 1989 Motorbooty magazine interview posted on this site.

As a matter of fact, this Funkadelic album is the first one that’s not a gatefold. That seriously cramps my style. But one thing I can say about the back cover of the Funkadelic album is that you’ll need a magnifying glass!


Wow! Always happy to see people talking about Sir Lleb! is a great site for info, but the pictures are usually pretty lacking, especially with the amount of compression the site usually adds to its documents.
Since Rocktober is a zine, I doubt you can find a color version, but you might be able to find a higher res version of the page if you can find a physical copy. How’d you come across this thing anyway?


@SlipperyDude, welcome to the forums! I’d be happy to see more Pedro topics on here.

I came across it, as I often do with P-Funk research - by luck. That 2004 transcription of the interview I linked to in the OP allowed me to find it the interview, since it mentioned some other albums I was keyword searching. Anyways, I then located this “original” (it is uploaded to by the Roctober editor), and there it was, two-toned and sitting in the margins.

Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. I posted it here hoping someone might have had an intact copy, or have more interest in buying it than me. (If you want to upload an image, I recommend having it level, neutrally-lit, high-resolution and containing some extra space around the edges.) Anyways, I quickly shifted my focus to locating a color version, as I think the Roctober editor may have a copy, so read on for more on that.

That was my initial thought too, however, (1) the Roctober editor was apparently friends with Pedro. Here’s a quote of a Tweet they posted:

I spent 100s of hours with Pedro Bell, and tried my best to help him realize his futuristic ideas/crazy schemes. I got drawn on a Funkadelic LP cover for my troubles. But his weird, warm friendship was the real value. Today is crazy but I’ll go into archives tmrw to share stuff.

Based on this, I don’t know if he really uploaded much, since he tweets personal stuff almost every day, and his account, I think by default, is set to limit how far back someone can go, so I can only text search, and thus I don’t know what stuff he shared from his “archives”. He may have posted some picture-only stuff.

And (2), as I just posted in the C Conspiracy topic, the editor does have a tweet of a print test of the comic that was probably made for those unreleased Parliament/Funkadelic 1999/2000 albums, since it has the Mammoth Records logo in the white space at the bottom. This makes me think they may also have a color version of Pedro’s By Way Of The Drum.

As I briefly mentioned in the OP, I’ve tried to contact Roctober. First with an email through their website, and later through Twitter (the editor’s Twitter is linked on the Roctober website). No response. Maybe they are offended by me asking to see it, or can’t legally share it? Regardless the reason, I decided to post this as I didn’t want to sit on this for too long. More people on the search, the better.


BTW, as a general announcement, I’ll say it explicitly just in case this could cause a problem: Don’t harass the Roctober editor or anyone else involved with the zine! I’m sure they don’t want people constantly bothering them for stuff related to their friend who’s passed on, especially if they don’t want to share it.

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Great find @ChrisB! Would be awesome with a color version in hi-res.

Another interesting thing in that interview is when Pedro talks about his original cover for The Cinderella Theory. Would love to see that too. But we should have a separate topic for that one. :wink:

Here’s the relevant pages from the link above (as jpegs).


Thanks for these scans, in the January 1983 Black music and Jazz review magazine it says the By Way of the Drum album is being released Spring 1983 on CBS. I guess the record execs shelved it.
I’m certain the album was finished by late 1982, and a few tracks were cut off it, and replaced by Freaks Baring Gifts and Yadadada. These 2 tracks had to be made after 1984 because Yadadada rips off Slick Rick’s 1985 track La Di Da Di, and Beware of Freaks samples Double Oh Oh from 1985.
In the interview Clinton mentions the album having Jonkanoo drumming on, I reckon there must be a few unreleased tracks with the Jonkanoo drumming on out there that didn’t make the 2007 released of the album.


Good info. I had my suspicions of an earlier version of the album, given an interview with George (linked below) and the delays in release, but I didn’t know about those articles or “Yadadada” (but I did notice the “Double Oh Oh” samples).

Here’s a picture of an October 1983 interview with George in Black Beat where he mentions the album. (Interview topics: Roger Troutman & Zapp, Capitol Records/EMI & Computer Games, “maybe twenty albums waiting to go out”, E.T. Brain, Rev. Uriah Boyington, By Way Of The Drum, Up South & Sir Nose, Bootsy fear of flying, fishing)

A fleeting return to sanity revealed details of the new Funkadelic album - an intriguing project titled “By Way Of The Drum”. "I’ve sub-titled this album “Funkaroo Meets Jonkaroo” 'cos that’s exactly what it is.

"The concept for the album came about as a result of a visit to Nassau at the invitation of the BMA [Black Music Association] who wanted me to conduct a seminar. They have this annual festival thing in the Bahamas called junkaroo which is akin to the street carnivals of South and Central America. They have lots of street dancing with people and re-enacting ceremonial rites and dances - it’s a great atmosphere.

"The music is a funky combination of calypso and soca but with its very own unique characteristics: the central instrument is a goat skin drum which creates this weird-sounding rhythm. I love it!

“When we did the actual recording, I brought in drummers from Nassau and I believe the whole concept has come across well. It’s the language of the Caribbean coupled with the language of the Mothership!”


Thanks for that article, it’s interesting Clinton says the E.T Brain album was made before the 1982 film E.T.
I always thought the Ron Ford tracks Terrestrial Touch and Quantum Leap off the If it ain’t on P Vine, it ain’t P Funk mail way CD were tracks meant for the E.T Brain album.


While we’re on the topic, I thought I’d ask here instead of creating another thread.

Do we know the recording period for the album? When it came out I remember thinking “this sounds much more like 1985 than 1989”, and later Wikipedia specified (but without any source) a recording period of “1983-1985”, which makes sense particularly given the 1983 interview mention above.

That said, I’m then a little puzzled by a few things:
1/ Why was it only offered to MCA in 1989, when it already was 4 years old and sounding outdated back then (no wonder they rejected it, if you compare it to the sound of The Cinderella Theory the difference is baffling)?
2/ Thus, were any overdubs added in 1989, or was it offered exactly as it was when abandonned 4 years earlier?
3/ If not, when is the bootleg configuration that we have from? Was it just a work in progress version or something that was considered for release as such at some point, then reworked later on?

Not sure if anyone knows, but if you do, thanks a lot for the info :slight_smile:


I’m just reading a UK magazine called Record Mirror from July 1985 with a interview with Thomas Dolby and George Clinton, Clinton says.
“The next Funkadelic album is going to be called By Way Of The Drum. I didn’t actually try to finish that until we got the whole legal stuff out of the way” he says referring to the complications that have temporarily derailed the ParliaFunkadelicment thang.
So I think your right the bulk of the album is from 1985, because George Clinton went bankrupt in 1984.
Slick Rick La Di Da Di was released August 13th 1985, so I don’t think Yadadada which copies La Di Da Di was recorded before this interview. George Clinton raps it live at the CMJ New Music Awards in November 1986.
LL Cool J,Run-DMC,George Clinton (1986 The new music awards) - YouTube


Great find! That clip is great, the audience be like: eeeeh ok… :smile:


Interesting, thanks :slight_smile: So we’re looking at late 1985 at least, but possibly later for the last additions, with the CMJ thing possibly suggesting that Yadadada was new at the time. Really intriguing. I wish Wikipedia would have sourced the recording dates. And I wish that P-funk sessions were as documented as Prince’s :confused:

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Nubian Nut from 1983 uses a same verse that By Way of the Drum uses, and the “Follow follow” vocal is used on Primal Instinct, so it’s likely those 2 tracks were some of the earliest tracks made.

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He was on some Fela Mr Follow Follow pretty good on Nut and Instinct. Yup yup. He started talking up both Drum and Parliament’s Up South right about the time Computer Games was on the wane.
There is a pic of him along with Jessica Cleaves and a few other assorted funkables circulating online. They were jamming with the junkanoo band down there at the Nassau event. There certainly was no junkanoo on it when we finally heard the bootleg of it in the early 1990s.
Why he makes no mention of what went down between them and MCA in his memoirs I don’t know. For that matter, why he failed to mention the RRHOF either. Go figure.

I’ve heard all kinds of stuff. From that 12" being mixed and released without George input and he got mad and withheld the album. Then, another source told me MCA heard the record and told him to keep his “so-called concept album”.


Yeah, that’s pretty much what Alan Leeds wrote in the notes for the cd release (see pictures on Discogs). I’d assume his account of the fallout with MCA to be accurate. However, I’m not as confident about when he makes it sound like they started recording the album after signing a deal with MCA in 1988, as what he says sounds pretty vague.

Speaking of Alan Leeds, while it may be related, in an interview from 2005 he mentions George bringing an “unfinished album” to Paisley Park.

As for my friend George, his affairs were then in disarray and we inherited an unfinished album that was already dated.

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I have always been fascinated by the timeline of the album. I read one interview from late '85 with George where he said they just finished it in the Bahamas - situating its completion most likely between Some Of My Best Jokes… and R&B Skeletons in the Closet. But there is so much other conflicting info, I am always intrigued.


Was spinning the Martial Law 12” when I noticed that the 2 Phunky Finger Mix includes part of the YaDaDaDa rap. Never struck me before that it was the same rap.

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Yeah, I recently heard that EP for the first time and noticed the same thing. The “Where’s Your Finger Been Mix” also has the Yada Da Da rap. Both really fun tracks.

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I notice in the inlay of the Family Series Part 1 it says Sunshine of Your Love was recorded in 1984, this version is the instrumental, but I’m sure the vocals were added at the same time.


Interesting, thx :slight_smile: I had forgotten we’d had a preview from the album on that comp :joy:

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Speaking of 1984, the Eramus Hall song Keep Me Burnin’ has some lyrical overlap with Some Fresh Delic, in particular the “burner” stuff.