From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
- The bands Funkadelic and Parliament are intrinsically linked and cannot be easily separated. This article focuses on Funkadelic; see Parliament-Funkadelic for an integrated history of the groups. For Funkadelic's self-titled album, see Funkadelic (album).
Funkadelic was a famous funk band, most prominent during the 1970s. Funkadelic was originally the backing band for the doo wop group, The Parliaments. The band was added in 1964, primarily for tours, and consisted of Frankie Boyce, Richard Boyce and Langston Booth. They enlisted in the army in 1966, and George Clinton (the leader of The Parliaments) recruited Billy Bass Nelson and Eddie Hazel in 1967, then also adding Tawl Ross and Tiki Fulwood. They would later go on to add members of the famous James Brown backing band "The J.B.'s" to the Funkadelic lineup, with the addition of brothers Bootsy & Catfish Collins.
Due to legal difficulties between Clinton and Revilot, The Parliaments' label, the name was abandoned in favor of Funkadelic, which consisted of the same group of people (that is, both the former Parliaments and their back-up band, now both combined in the name "Funkadelic"). The group signed to Westbound in 1968.
The group's self-titled debut album, Funkadelic, was released in 1970. The credits listed organist Mickey Atkins plus Clinton, Fulwood, Hazel, Nelson and Ross, though the actual recording also included several uncredited sessionmen then employed by Motown, as well as Ray Monette (of Rare Earth) and Bernie Worrell.
Bernie Worrell was officially credited starting with Funkadelic's second album, 1970's Free Your Mind... and Your Ass Will Follow, thus beginning a long collaboration between Worrell and Clinton (who had been friends for quite a while). Worrell would go on to produce many Parliament and Funkadelic albums, as well as play keyboard on albums by other members of P Funk.
After the release of Maggot Brain in 1971, Bootsy and Catfish Collins joined the group. The group would go on to become major contributors to the P-Funk sound. In 1972, this new line-up released America Eats Its Young, but many members left the group after that, due to internal squabbles, plus Hazel spent a year in jail for drug possession and assault, Tawl Ross experiencing either a bad LSD trip and/or a speed overdose, while Billy Bass quit due to financial concerns. Michael Hampton, a seventeen-year-old guitar prodigy, replaced Hazel.
1975 brought Funkadelic to Warner Brothers, and saw the release of Hardcore Jollies in 1976. The same year, Westbound released a compilation of archived tracks titled Tales of Kidd Funkadelic, which did commercially significantly better than Hardcore Jollies and included "Undisco Kidd", an R&B Top 30 single. In 1977, Westbound capitalized on the success of Tales of Kidd Funkadelic by releasing The Best of the Early Years. Funkadelic recorded and released its magnum opus, One Nation Under a Groove in 1978. The titular track spent six weeks at #1 on the R&B charts, while Parliament was enjoying success with "Flash Light" and "Aqua Boogie." Uncle Jam Wants You continued Funkadelic's new more electronic sound production. The album contains fifteen minutes long version of chart-topping "(Not Just) Knee Deep". The last album, The Electric Spanking of War Babies, was released in 1981, and has a very good reputation among the funk music listeners despite the fact that it yielded no hit singles.
Also the album Who's a Funkadelic (also known as Connections & Disconnections) was released under the name Funkadelic in 1981. The album was made by former band members that did not like George Clinton's way of running things. The album is not considered being very good. Also another rebellious former band member, drummer Jerome Brailey, released the album Mutiny on Mamaship, leading his new band called Mutiny. Even Clinton himself found this record to be good despite containing lyrics that mocked him.
As the 1980s wore on, with legal difficulties arising from the multiple names used by multiple groups, as well as a shakeup among Parliament's record label, Parliament and Funkadelic disintegrated. George Clinton recorded several solo albums (sometimes under the name George Clinton & the P.Funk All-Stars).
Filmmaker Yvonne Smith of Berkeley, California-based Firelight Media, produced Funkadelic: One Nation Under a Groove, a full-length documentary about the groundbreaking group, which aired on PBS in 2005.
- Funkadelic • Free Your Mind...And Your Ass Will Follow • Maggot Brain • America Eats Its Young • Cosmic Slop • Standing on the Verge of Getting It On • Let's Take It to the Stage • Tales of Kidd Funkadelic • Hardcore Jollies • One Nation Under a Groove • Uncle Jam Wants You • The Electric Spanking of War Babies • Connections & Disconnections • By Way Of The Drum
Funkadelic albums are rather more ethereal and abstract when compared to Parliament’s. Rather than tell the story of a cast of characters, the mythology of Funkadelic is a socially conscious spiritualism.
The Funk is described on the very first song ("Mommy, What's a Funkadelic?") of the very first Funkadelic album (Funkadelic, 1970), in the lines "... my name is Funk/I am not of your world/Hold still, baby, I won't do you no harm/I think I'll be good to you".
On the second album, Free Your Mind... And Your Ass Will Follow (1971), Funk is said to lead to the Kingdom of heaven, which is described as being "within" (the titular song). "Funky Dollar Bill" (off the same album) describes multiple unFunky priorities, all revolving around materialism and consumerism, which have taken over all that is good and true in society (including, on "Eulogy and Light," religion).
One central concept is Maggot Brain (Maggot Brain, 1971), which is an unenlightened small-mindedness, and which must be overcome for humanity to avoid its destruction and decay. It is explicitly ascribed to the titular junkie in "Super Stupid," who has "lost the fight" with fear. Other songs on the album advocate universal love, peace, and brotherhood, and war is explicitly compared to insanity in "Back In Our Minds." The album ends on an apocalyptic note with "Wars of Armageddon," in which the sound of a crying baby can be taken as a direct reference to the speech at the beginning of the title track: "Mother Earth is pregnant for the third time, for y'all have knocked her up." With its noisy improvisation and activist chanting, the track appears to depict a final confrontation between good and evil.
One Nation Under a Groove (Funkadelic, 1978) introduces Funkadelica, a nation wherein the Funk rules and can’t be either stopped or labeled. The people of Funkadelica are called Funkateers (as are P Funk fans) and are led by Uncle Jam. Their mission is to rescue dance music from the doldrums (unFunkiness).