Parliament

Tagged: Music

UK funk band, created by George Clinton. A dispute over the name prompted Clinton to form another group, Funkadelic, with largely the same membership; but after the dispute was resolved Clinton kept both projects going, with Funkadelic more funk-rock and Parliament more funk-soul in musical style. The band's fourth album, Mothership Connection (1975) introduces the "Mothership of Funk", a very influential sf-inflected new direction in funk music. Clinton, in interview, talked of his desire to "put black people in situations nobody ever thought they would be in"; and of this album in particular he said: "I figured another place you wouldn't think black people would be was in outer space. I was a big fan of Star Trek, so we did a thing with a pimp sitting in a spaceship shaped like a Cadillac, and we did all these James Brown-type grooves, but with street talk and ghetto slang." This is as concise a characterization of the album as you could hope for: Mothership Connection is a joyful, rhythmically complex and witty piece of music in which sf tropes, especially on the tracks "Mothership Connection (Star Child)", "Unfunky UFO" and "Supergroovalisticprosifunkstication", are placed at the service of a life-affirming, somatic and kinetic combination of music and lyrics. The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein (1976) riffs playfully off Mary Shelley's enduringly iconic monster, and Gloryhallastoopid (1979) is a loosely organized concept-album that dramatizes "funk" as the originary creative force of the cosmos. This description may make the album seem pompous or pretentious, but it is very far from that, and indeed strays frequently into a ludicrous ribaldry, as with the sexual assertiveness of "May We Bang You?" and the goofy hymn to anal sex "Theme From the Black Hole". [AR]

see also: Afrofuturism.

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