Sunday, October 22, 2006

All time top ten - #9 - Mothership Connection

Who gots the funk? In 1975, Parliament redefined party music, creating a new genre of sound. Perhaps not creating, but defining. Funk had a name, and an image. Someone born in 1990 can put on Mothership Connection and instantly feel like they've heard it all before, partly because of the umpteen samples that have been plagiarised by Snoop Dogg, P. Diddy et al, but also the clear influence it wields over R'n'B ever since.
Fusing together blues, jazz and rock, dressing it in a cape and sunglasses and soaking it in acid, George Clinton and his cohorts put in place a clear picture of what funk was. The opening two tracks ('P-Funk (Who Wants to Get Funked Up?)' and 'Mothership Connection') introduced two new characters on this starship of funk (there was a LOT of acid), including Starchild, who was to appear routinely in future Parliament records, guiding the listener through 8 tracks of party-inducing, drug fuelled insanity.
In 1975, there was no middle ground between rock, which tended towards overblown pretensions of a Pink Floyd-esque scale (Velvet Underground, King Crimson, Led Zeppelin etc) and disco, always rambunctious, but lacking in depth and vision (until the appearance of Chic in the late 70s). Funk filled the void perfectly, and never before or since has one record so amazingly distilled an entire muscial movement, while still thumping out record-scratching dancefloor magic of unparalleled fun at the same time.
This top ten list is dominated by bands and records renowned for being 'deep' and 'intense' and 'artistic', so for 'Mothership Connection' to grace it at number 9 speaks volumes for its power, influence, and sheer, hip-shaking brilliance.

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