Review Summary: Disconnecting George Clinton was a bad idea
Part of a collective of music groups called P-funk
headed by the legendary producer George Clinton: Funkadelic
and its sister group Parliament
were two of the biggest players of not just the funk genre, but popular music in general throughout the 1970s.
By the late 70's however, the Parliament-Funkadelic
empire was beginning to collapse. As George Clinton’s fame within the funk genre grew, so did his bands. Between his two main projects, there were simply too many members to handle. (Funkadelic
alone he had over 30 band members involved in their previous release). Some of these individuals were detrimental to his success, but most of them were expendable. This problem was only further exacerbated by Clinton’s prevalent drug use.
As a result from the turmoil, P-Funk
members Fuzzy Haskins, Calvin Simon and Grady Thomas broke from the band to release Connections and Disconnections
under the Funkadelic
name without any involvement of Clinton, which was a deliberate middle finger to the godfather of funk himself.
Before we get to the major problems with Connections
, it is first important to note what the album does right. The lyrical content is for the most part standard P-funk
output, dealing with themes of fantasy, sci-fi, and groove, and as a result, the lyrics are about as ridiculous as ever. With lines like:
We're from tomorrow spending your borrowed time
Clonin' none and havin' fun energizing on the one
Transported by flotilla to your galaxy to groove
Armed with lazers' rhythms to make those booties move-title track
Funkadelic is the snap, crackle and pop in your funk toasties-Who’s a Funkadelic?
Most of the songs spin tales about funky intergalactic superheroes, which is a surprisingly strong concept for a P-Funk release. The voices of Fuzzy, Calvin, and Grady don't sound much different from the rest of either band's discog, as you still get those smooth voices that helped the beats bounce with the funk. There is a single track, however, called 'The Witch' is the only song that deviates from these spacey concepts, focusing instead on bashing the “Witch”: former band member George Clinton.
"One of quin became possessed by witchery, greed.
Deceit, completely ignoring the funkdation upon whence our destiny was to conceived
by our funk fathers,
Our funk fathers, fathers funk, fathers, our funk, funk fathers, oh our funk fathers"
But even with lyrics like these, it never really stands out from the rest of the album (take that as you will). So fans expecting at least this much from this release will end up a little less disappointed than the rest of us.
The main attraction to bands like Parliament and Funkadelic, however, was the incredible instrumental backing that existed as the rhythmic foundation of prior releases. And this is where the lack of former member George Clinton comes to the album's detriment. Clinton may not have been the best band manager, but his skills as a producer are undeniable with his fingerprints being all over masterpieces such as Mothership Connection
and Maggot Brain
, breathing a whole new life into those albums. Helping them stay just as fresh these days as those days when they first hit the shelves. This is the biggest problem with Connections
: the production is extremely weak, especially for a release with the word Funkadelic
on its cover. Yes, the beats are funky; however, those ‘funky’ beats lack vigor and originality, and end up sounding extremely generic in comparison to some of the more famous records of the day. Sure, they are somewhat "catchy"; and yes, they are somewhat "danceable", much like those critically lauded classics that were mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, those same beats are little more than that, they are only somewhat groovy and their rhythms are only somewhat infectious, they lack most of the life that exploded in any album in Parliament's
The most painful part of Connections and Disconnections
is that you can tell these guys put a lot of time into it, meticulously tinkering the album so that it could stand on level ground with the 'legitimate' Funkadelic
albums. Ultimately, however, the band is hindered by the lack of the exact person whom they tried to break away from in the first place. If anything, Connections and Disconnections
exists as an example of what happens when a crucial member is replaced or left behind. At the end of the day, the only real positive this album possesses is that it reminds us that what made the classic Parliament
records so good in the first place, was Clinton.