Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Red Light, Neon Light

Parliament : Flashlight

Has anybody seen Sir Nose?...And it came to pass that upon his return, Dr Funkenstein did find the planet to have completely lost the best of the funkentelechy, and had fallen prey tp the placebo syndrome, spread throughout the galaxy by the infamous Sir Nose D'Voidoffunk. Driven by the genius of desperation , Dr Funkenstein sends Starchild to do battle, armed with his greatest invention of all time --the BOP FUN. It's the battle of the century ..."Funkentelechy Vs. The Placebo Syndrome.
--Ad Copy

On November 28, 1977 Parliament followed up their classic studio album Mothership Connection with a concept album about the vapidness of Disco music and consumerism called Funkentelechy Vs The Placebo Syndrome. While critics usually call Mothership the pinnacle, fans often argue this is best Parliament album. And with good reason. First of all, there's "Flash Light"six of the funkiest minutes the 70's ever produced thanks to a synthesizer bass line played in a Minimoog by keyboardist Bernie Worrell . Second of all, there was an 8 page comic book that came with the LPs.

Here's what Ken Tucker wrote about the "funk opera"  for Rolling Stone:

Clinton triggers Parliament's album with a song so hard that bullets bounce off it. "Bop Gun (Endangered Species)" is an R and B you tickled by synthesizer fills and mugged by a gang of ribald trumpets. His lead vocal is both playful and passionate: Otis Redding as gunslinger philosopher. Later, when certain elements of Funkentelechy's plot grow cumbersome and impenetrable, Clinton blasts away the confusion by simply losing it in the riffing, which peaks on "Flash Light," a gritty disco digression.

 If the name of the main character in Clinton's latest scenario seems corny at first — he is Sir Nose D'Voidoffunk — it's only because no one could possibly foresee the multiple puns, wise-cracks and convolutions its creator can wrest from it. From the start, all Parliament Funkadelic music has been enthusiastically excessive, in everything from verbiage to the number of musicians employed. While Funkentelechy is no exception. Clinton's production work here is atypically light and clear. Whereas in the past he's usually encouraged the bass and drums to sound murky, to retard the beat and thereby offset the jangle of his raft of hardnosed and Hendrix-inspired guitarists, he's now developed an invigorating musical and verbal precision. Michael Hampton's expert guitar solos quiver starkly in the mix, and Clinton even strives to make his own lyrics intelligible — not coherent maybe, but intelligible.

And, if "Funkentelechy" and "Sir Nose D'Voidoffunk (Pay Attention — B3M)" go on too long — the fatal P-Funk flaw — "Wizard of Finance." which sounds a lot like Graham Central Station, and especially "Bop Gun" display a new rigorousness and brevity.

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