As the British-blues-flower-child era came to a close, new sounds filled its place: heavy rock, funk, soul, metal. The music that arose in the early ’70s was filled with a raunchier sort of angst that left the doo-woppers of the ’60s to cower in their flower crowns. Psychedelia would still reign supreme, but it became twinged with a glamorous grit.
Funkadelic’s debut album encapsulates this transition perfectly.
Having been a part of the Parliaments, a Motown group, George Clinton found himself at a crossroads. His talent still lay in classic Motown, but psychedelics and hard rock were calling to his spirit. After breaking from the Parliaments, (which would later become Parliament, Funkadelic’s sister band) Clinton brought together a new group of musicians. Thus, Funkadelic was born.
Their first album is an incredible mishmash of soul, funk, classic country blues and acid trips. The opening track, “Mommy, What’s A Funkadelic?” is an ode to the sultry nature of funk itself. Clinton’s voice, as well as several other “funkadelics”, can be heard crooning over a slow, bluesy track, whispering sermons and shouting in a true Motown spirit. “I’ll Bet You” is more upbeat, a perfect example of the “true funk” that would come to be in the mid to late ’70s.
The entire album is both an ode to traditional Black country music and the changing, drug-fueled culture of the late ’60s. “Music for my Mother” demonstrates this exquisitely. Listening to Clinton murmur the words “Sit down by old beat-up railroad train/ And get me, get myself a little of that old funky thang/ Can you all feel what I mean?/ This is what you call way back younger funk” over harmonicas and steel string guitar shows how perfectly they infuse both psychedelia and soul.
It is truly one of the greatest albums to come out of the early ’70s. Gloriously unapologetic, terrifyingly experimental and filled with soul, “Funkadelic” is worth taking a listen to.