Music does not always have to convey a profound and important message. Music, at times, works better with a sense of humor or just plain fun. Very few artists rival the ability to make music fun than George Clinton and his associated funk bands. Funk, in essence, is all about sleazy sexiness, started by none other than James Brown. Later in the 1970s, George Clinton, while running both powerhouses Parliament and Funkadelic, rose to the top of the funk scene, becoming inspiration for later artists such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Prince. Standing on the Verge of Getting It On is certainly one of Clinton’s albums dedicated to having fun rather than conveying his comments on society shown in albums like Maggot Brain.
As the liner notes would have it:
Spaced Viking; Keyboards & Vocals: Bernie Worrell
Tenor Vocals, Congas and Suave Personality: Calvin Simon
A Prototype Werewolf; Berserker Octave Vocals: Fuzzy Haskins
World's Only Black Leprechaun; Bass & Vocals: Boogie Mosson
Maggoteer Lead/Solo Guitar & Vocals: Eddie 'Smedley Smorganoff' Hazel
Rhythm/Lead Guitar, Doowop Vocals, Sinister Grin: Garry Shider
Supreme Maggot Minister of Funkadelia; Vocals, Maniac Froth and Spit; Behaviour Illegal in Several States: George Clinton
Percussion & Vocals; Equipped with stereo armpits: Tiki Fulwood
Rhythm/Lead Guitar; polyester soul-powered token white devil: Ron Bykowski
Registered and Licensed Genie; Vocals: 'Shady' Grady Thomas
Subterranean Bass Vocals, Supercool and Stinky Fingers: Ray (Stingray) Davis
Drums: Gary Bronson
Bass: Jimmy Calhoun
Piano: Leon Patillo
Percussion: Ty Lampkin
While George Clinton is the head of Funkadelic, he is certainly not the standout musician or vocalist. He simply adds atmosphere and creates the funky orchestration, but the instrumentalists really make the grooves happen. Eddie Hazel, quite possibly the greatest funk guitarist of all time, stands out with his incredibly tasteful and virtuosic lead guitar lines. He takes stage as a prominent voice in the band melodically in just about every song while other guitarists accompany him. However, funk would be nothing without the bassline, and Boogie Mosson creates just the right bassline. He jumps all over the fretboard in an incredibly smooth manner, knowing when to play out and when to simply lay down an undercurrent. Along with the various percussionists, this instrument section may be the most locked-in rhythm section of Funkadelic history. Most songs on this album pulsate forward at faster tempos with some of the best riffs Funkadelic has ever busted out. However, most of these songs lack variety, sticking to one main riff and continuing throughout the song. Luckily, unlike most Clinton efforts, the songs are a normal 2-4 minute range.
The messages on the album are quite simple with each song. The first 4 songs on the album are all about women. An entire range of emotions comes through, including Sexy Ways
which is all about coaxing a woman to sleep with the singer (That singer being Garry Shider). Sexy Ways
, musically, is one of the most fun songs on the album, with some of the best funk grooving going on in the rhythm section. Alice in My Fantasies
is just the opposite, lyrically. The song tells of a woman who wants to sleep with the vocalist (George Clinton), but Clinton refuses her. Musically, the song is even more aggressive than Sexy Ways
, sounding a bit more rock oriented than funk oriented. Hendrix influence is extremely obvious. I’ll Stay
makes the variety musically—a slow R&B groove. The song features piano comping while Hazel screams overtop of the rest of the band.
The second half of the album steps out into different territory. In today’s world, people would sue Funkadelic for releasing a song like Jimmy’s Got A Little Bit of Bi*ch in Him
. The song speaks of a friend that is gay. The vocals take The Parliaments and Garry Shider and they sing together, poking fun at Jimmy. Eddie Hazel plays along with the melody in an extremely bluesy tone. The drums and bass drive the song along, propelling the energy constantly forward. The song also makes references to erectile dysfunction with lines like “So why frown? Even the sun go down!” However, the album does not go without its important message, sent out in the closing song Good Thoughts, Bad Thoughts
. The song starts out sounding like another Maggot Brain. The song, musically, is just 12 minutes of guitar. However, spoken word conveys a message of empowerment and achievement throughout the song. While the lyrics are certainly uplifting, 12 minutes is just too much, making this the worst song on the album. Furthermore, it destroys the entire tone of the album.
It’s unfortunate that the album closes on such a disappointing note. For the most part, the album is incredibly groovy and fun. However, as the rest of the songs are quite short albeit I’ll Stay
, no song is really that memorable, giving me the final rating of 3. As an album, its great and maybe even excellent, but it lacks the standout classics of so many other Funkadelic albums. It sounds like one huge blend of stereotypical Funkadelic funk, which is not at all a bad thing.
Alice in My Fantasies
Jimmy’s Got A Little Bit of Bi*ch in Him.