Review Summary: "THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN...IS WITHIN!"
was an excellent introduction to the band we came to know as Funkadelic. It was groovy, sexy, and expertly produced by the godfather of funk himself: George Clinton. Yet for all that was great about this album, there was a major drawback that needed to be addressed for later releases: for an album called Funkadelic, it wasn’t really effective in balancing the psychedelic and funk influences; there was a lot more visible influence from the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa than the likes of James Brown and the Isley Brothers. This made tracks sound more like early R&B pumped with hallucinogens than it did a ‘Funkadelic’ album. And while the group’s self-titled was more than able to stand under its own weight, Clinton was going to go nowhere had he moved forward with this sound.
Released the exact same year as their debut, Free Your Mind...And Your As$ Will Follow
, otherwise known as Free Your Mind...And The Rest Will Follow
or simply Free Your Mind...
for obvious reasons, was the album Funkadelic needed. With a crisper sound, greater emphasis on rhythm, and less indulgence on the dark moody echoes that practically defined that of their debut, it set a new direction for the band, and Funkadelic hasn’t looked back since.
Funkadelic from the very start of the album lets listeners know that the title is not a gimmick, but a way of life followed by the Funkadelics religiously. Those who play Free your Mind
from the start will be immediately hit up-front with a chant:
“FREE YOUR MIND... AND YOUR ASS WILL FOLLOW;
THE KINDGOM OF HEAVEN...IS WITHIN!”
This is repeated to the tune of heavy guitar distortion and feedback in the background, this goes for two minutes, setting in a weirdly trippy vibe that really sets the tone for the rest of the album. Following those 2 minutes of psychedelic glory, the chant speeds up, and the raw guitar distortion suddenly morphs into a blazing guitar solo courtesy of Eddie Hazel. This, my friends, is simply the opening title-track, much funkier is to come.
The funk climax, ‘Funky Dollar Bill’ shows a new side to Funkadelic, one with a knack for social commentary, that will take a much larger hold as the band progresses. The song is a critique of Americans who strive only to earn cash through the course of their lives, without caring about what truly matters in life.
“It'll buy a war, it will save a land
It pollutes this air, in the name of wealth
It'll buy you a life but not true life
The kind of life where the soul is lost”
Following “Funky Dollar Bill” songs slowly rebound back to psychedelic territory, but still manage to remain funky for the duration of the album. With songs like "I Wanna Know If It's Good To You" displaying increased emphasis on trippy atmospherics reminiscent of the debut, but still carrying the heavy grooves expected of a P-funk album.
Free Your Mind...And Your As$ Will Follow
is the album where Funkadelic found the style they were going for, namely one that was flexible enough so that there would be enough unexplored territory to keep the group from running stale. As a result, Free Your Mind...
serves as an excellent introduction for anyone wanting their first taste of Funkadelic.