Available for Record Store, this great new Parliafunkdelicment box set is appraised by Soul Jones…
Chocolate City: London
P-Funk Live At Metropolis
Review written by
Soul “Doddzilla” Jones
Do not attempt to adjust your browser; there is nothing wrong. We have [temporarily] taken control of Echoes Magazine to bring you news of the official revival of the Parliafunkadelicment thang – that is, George Clinton’s access to the names and use of his greatest funk creations Parliament & Funkadelic.
For too long, the sprawling workforce of the so called P-Funk All Stars has been roaming the concert halls of terrafirma, as a displaced musical colony, hangin’ out on stage like a grounded Battlestar Gallactica, too far inside their constrictions. Whilst the corporations and industry of music have allowed Hip-Hop & Rap celebrities to fake the funk ‘n’ take the P, scavenging and raping the P-Funk legacy without ever seeing fit [as it transpires, if you read from page 379 onwards in George’s brilliant new memoir Brotha’s Be Yo Like George, Aint That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You?] to give proper due, respect or recompense directly to George himself, or his collaborators and rightful copyright owners.
Which means we’ve had to suffer lame-arse rappers [with their DJs] swinging down and riding the groove, championed as carriers of the torch, all the while trying to claim ownership of “the one” with the distorted sound of the DAT beat and bottom-less bass.
Yet any convert who has experienced, in the flesh, the true power of a fully operational mothership of musicians and vocalists, fronted by the talismanic genius of George Clinton, can testify that it’s on stage where the music lives and breathes. And tryin’ to pin the tail on that funky, is not as easy as it sounds.
Which is reason why this brand new live album box set Chocolate City: London – P-Funk Live At The Metropolis – released especially for Record Store Day April 18 – should be applauded and promptly purchased, as the crack session engineers and sound experts [responsible for many great recordings including Back To Black by Amy Winehouse] have succeeded where prior funkateer’s have failed, even improving on the Parliament Live P-Funk Earth Tour album from ’77 [the tour that sensationally included the Mothership stagecraft prop which cost over half a million dollars] which was in circulation during the peak of the band’s popularity.
OK, so there may not be a male lead vocal with the power of a Glen Goins, but that just seems to have pushed George Clinton [the performer] more to the fore. And he’s in fine voice, and when I say fine, I mean with the raw soul of a “ham hock in your cornflakes”, rolling back the years to his wails of passion on the very first Funkadelic album and What Is Soul? Whether that’s due to rejuvenation, or the hardship of a sprained knee suffered immediately prior to the performance [“We gon’ do the show anyway, I don’t give a fuck,” said George] is irrelevant – it still sounds nasty, and as you probably know all that is good is nasty. The tracklist is a clone-pleaser too, despite not actually including any cuts from the 1975 classic Chocolate City album [we’ll overlook that], we’re treated to the smacked out electro classic Atomic Dog with real drums alongside the killer Red Hot Mama [featuring a superb Ricky Rouse plucking strings with his teeth on lead guitar] and the hard slop of Friday Night August 14th [which features an always welcome Joss Stone].
There are some surprises too. We’re led to believe that P-Funk doesn’t do sincerity, doesn’t do straight. But the way featured vocalist Mary Griffin turns out Crazy the former Gnarls Barkley tune [I say former, because it’s hers now] and takes it to electric church, like Gladys Knight meets Tina Turner, is outstanding. Rising funk queen Kendra Foster, fresh from her recent triumph as D’Angelo’s co-songwriter on Black Messiah [who was standing on the verge of getting it on when this live set was recorded in January 2014] also confirms why she is essential to the P-Funk revival – injecting each song with an authentic gusto and vibrancy, not witnessed since Parlet and the Brides of Funkenstein.
It wouldn’t be a Parliafunkadelicment thang without a 12-minute rendition of the vintage Maggot Brain either, and there’s no-one better than original guitar maggot-overlord & legend Michael Hampton at channelling the spirit and playing the song like Eddie Hazel’s mothers dead. George, for his part, as the original super-producer, has also mastered the songs live arrangement, fixing the issues he struggled with on the original tapes with a gospeldelic balance of drums, keys and bass. All this and its packaged like a box o’ milk tray chocolates with additional cocoa coloured live-to-vinyl recordings and a DVD of the main concert.
This is a collector’s piece worthy of your hard earned scratch. Speaking of which, let’s hope the reclaiming of the Parliament & Funkadelic names is mirrored by Clinton winning back the royalties that are rightfully his. Then he might be able to afford and emerge once again, like Star Child, from a Mothership stage prop [maybe one with grab rails, if the knee’s still sore].