Funkadelic – One Nation Under A Groove (1978)

AllMusic Review: One Nation Under a Groove was not only Funkadelic’s greatest moment, it was their most popular album, bringing them an unprecedented commercial breakthrough by going platinum and spawning a number one R&B smash in the title track. It was a landmark LP for the so-called “black rock” movement, best-typified in the statement of purpose “Who Says a Funk Band Can’t Play Rock?!”; more than that, though, the whole album is full of fuzzed-out, Hendrix-style guitar licks, even when the music is clearly meant for the dancefloor. This may not have been a new concept for Funkadelic, but it’s executed here with the greatest clarity and accessibility in their catalog. Furthermore, out of George Clinton’s many conceptual albums (serious and otherwise), One Nation Under a Groove is the pinnacle of his political consciousness. It’s unified by a refusal to acknowledge boundaries — social, sexual, or musical — and, by extension, the uptight society that created them. The tone is positive, not militant — this funk is about community, freedom, and independence, and you can hear it in every cut (even the bizarre, outrageously scatological “P.E. Squad”). The title cut is one of funk’s greatest anthems, and “Groovallegiance” and the terrific “Cholly” both dovetail nicely with its concerns. The aforementioned “Who Says a Funk Band Can’t Play Rock?!” is a seamless hybrid that perfectly encapsulates the band’s musical agenda, while “Into You” is one of their few truly successful slow numbers. The original LP included a three-song bonus EP featuring the heavy riff rock of “Lunchmeataphobia,” an unnecessary instrumental version of “P.E. Squad,” and a live “Maggot Brain”; these tracks were appended to the CD reissue. In any form, One Nation Under a Groove is the best realization of Funkadelic’s ambitions, and one of the best funk albums ever released. — Steve Huey

Track Listing

Side One
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “One Nation Under a Groove” George Clinton, Walter Morrison, Garry Shider 7:29
2. “Groovallegiance” Clinton, Morrison, Bernard Worrell 7:00
3. “Who Says a Funk Band Can’t Play Rock?!” Clinton, Morrison, Michael Hampton 6:18
Side Two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Promentalshitbackwashpsychosis Enema Squad (The Doo Doo Chasers)” Clinton, Shider, Linda Brown 10:45
2. “Into You” Clinton, Morrison, William Collins 5:41
3. “Cholly (Funk Getting Ready To Roll!)” Clinton, Morrison, Collins 4:27

 

Schill Score:  10/10

 

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Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (1971)

AllMusic Review: It starts with a crackle of feedback shooting from speaker to speaker and a voice intoning, “Mother Earth is pregnant for the third time, for y’all have knocked her up” and talking about rising “above it all or drown in my own sh*t.” This could only have been utterly bizarre back in 1971 and it’s no less so decades later; though the Mothership was well on its way already, Maggot Brain really helped it take off. The instrumental title track is the key reason to listen, specifically for Eddie Hazel’s lengthy, mind-melting solo. George Clinton famously told Hazel to play “like your momma had just died,” and the resulting evocation of melancholy and sorrow doesn’t merely rival Jimi Hendrix’s work, but arguably bests a lot of it. Accompanied by another softer guitar figure providing gentle rhythm for the piece, the end result is simply fantastic, an emotional apocalypse of sound. Maggot Brain is bookended by another long number, “Wars of Armageddon,” a full-on jam from the band looping in freedom chants and airport-departure announcements to the freak-out. In between are a number of short pieces, finding the collective merrily cooking up some funky stew of the slow and smoky variety. There are folky blues and gospel testifying on “Can You Get to That” (one listen and a lot of Primal Scream’s mid-’90s career is instantly explained) and wry but warm reflections on interracial love on “You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks,” its drum hits distorted to give a weird electronic edge to the results. “Super Stupid” is a particular killer, pounding drums and snarling guitar laying down the boogie hard and hot, while “Hit It and Quit It” has a great chorus and Bernie Worrell getting in a fun keyboard solo to boot. — Ned Raggett

Track Listing

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Maggot Brain”
  • Edward Hazel
  • George Clinton
10:21
2. “Can You Get to That” (released as a single-Westbound 185)
  • Clinton
  • Ernest Harris
2:50
3. “Hit It and Quit It” (released as a single-Westbound 198)
  • Clinton
  • William Nelson
3:50
4. “You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks” (released as a single-Westbound 175)
  • Clinton
  • Clarence Haskins
  • Nelson
  • Bernard Worrell
  • Judie Jones (mistakenly credit)
3:36
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Super Stupid”
  • Hazel
  • Lucious Ross
  • Nelson
  • Clinton
4:01
2. “Back in Our Minds” Haskins 2:38
3. “Wars of Armageddon”
  • Ramon Fulwood
  • Ross
  • Clinton
  • Worrell
9:42

 

Schill Score: 9.5/10

 

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