Friday, June 24, 2011
FUNKADELIC - FUNKADELIC
Peter Falk died today.
Part of me finds it hard to imagine a universe without Columbo, at the same time part of me, if he's honest thought that your man with the crooked face and a cigar teetering from his lips passed a few years back. That in mind it's a good news/bad news situation. Good news that Peter Falk wasn't in fact dead. Bad news that sadly he is now.
I was never that into Columbo. I mean, no more than any other student bunking off college with nothing else to do in the early/mid 90's, eager to see who this episodes guest star was and at what point our hero would utter those immortal words 'Just one more thing'. My reason for missing Peter will be the film 1979 'In Laws' in which he plays a CIA agent along side Alan Arkin's anxious and out of his depths in-law to be.
It's a great film and despite the name being tainted by a piss-poor remake a few years ago I urge you to watch it if you get chance.
As seems to have become traditional, this has absolutely nothing to do with the record I am reviewing, it's simply what is on my mind at the end of a long and rainy day. I'd like to think I could come up with some clever way of marrying the two together, perhaps ending this review with the words 'Oh and by the way' or suggesting Peter's mac is dirty because of all of the funk raining down on him but I wont. Instead I will move swiftly along and talk about George Clinton and friends.
When did funk fall so spectacularly out of fashion? It's now at the point when it has almost, almost but not quite come back round again full circle.
As soon as I hear the word 'funk' paired with anything I give it a swerve. I have always viewed it as the last refuge of a tired genre. The tie-on ingredient that you might use in an attempt to revive any one of a dozen types of music. 'They' tried to fix Hip-Hop with the funk, they tried to fix metal with the funk, they keep trying to fix House with the funk and what do we have to show for it? Fishbone, Armand Van Helden and Warren G.
It reads like the track-listing for the kind of mix-tape you might play to somebody you wanted dead from over-exposure to average wall-paper paste tasting music.
Despite the word 'funk' bringing to mind a whole list of ugly, sickening images: white people dancing badly, bass guitars played way to high in a Mark King style, ill-advised 70's themed student nights, Bootsy Collins, It's important to remember that before all of that, before Yarbrough and Peoples made he worst song in the history of modern music (Don't Stop The Music), before it became the punch-line in an unfunny joke, there was this...
The first Funkadelic album is a well measured and perfectly balanced exercise in finding out exactly what happens when the energy, soul, rhythm and blues synonymous with Black music clashes with the loud electronic instrumentation more readily associated with psychedelic rock. Reading this back it's an over simplistic summary that is not without it's inaccuracies - Brown (James) had already spoken of 'the funk' and Hendrix had of course been sowing the seeds for this particular sound for a good few years prior. Regardless of this it's a summary that I am happy to go with.
I don't need to talk too much about the result because it's history. Needless to say it worked. 'Funkadelic' is playful, stupid, unexpected and ultimately it rocks as hard as anything being made in 1970. It transcends the constraints of it's genre and is so much more timeless than the P-Funk that Funkadelic evolved into.
Despite this I have a hard time listening to it. Why? Perhaps it's because I have a hard time separating it from the insipid genre that it spawned. It's stupid I know but I really can't put into words how much I fucking hate Yarbrough and Peoples.
In other news I just checked the news, Peter Falk is still dead.