The Mothership that is Parliament-Funkadelic descended upon the Toronto Jazzfest this past weekend, led by its long-time captain and creator, George Clinton. Uncle Jam was in fine form leading the band through their steady stream of hits.
The set was a steady back-and-forth of the Parliament and Funkadelic catalogues, for a steady stream of funk and rock including including (Parliament) “Tear The Roof Off”, “Mothership Connection”, “Flash Light” along with Funkadelic’s “Knee Deep”, “Get Off Your Ass and Jam”, “One Nation Under a Groove” a stunning rendition of “Maggot Brain” and capping the night off with Clinton’s 1983 solo hit “Atomic Dog”
The PFunk lineup has been fluid and a revolving door since the early days, and this show was no exception. Members DeWayne McKnight (guitar) Ricky Rouse (guitar) and Greg Thomas (saxophone) have been with the ensemble since the late 1970’s. Clinton himself has taken on more of an MC role in the last 20 years. At 74 years of age, the genius producer with an eye for talent has earned the right to have fun and steer the Mothership with his ever-changing crew.
For anyone who thinks they are unfamiliar with the PFunk library just grab a hiphop record produced after 1987 and you’ll realize how well versed you already are. Forming the basis of classics like De La Soul’s “Me Myself and I” (Knee Deep) and Snoop’s “What’s My Name” (Atomic Dog), PFunk’s horns, grooves, hooks and singalong choruses are a blueprint of modern funk and pop. Seriously, If you have a few hours, type in Parliament/Funkadelic into http://www.whosampled.com
The sense of humour, sci-fi imagery and Clinton’s habit of channeling multiple personalities (Dr. Funkenstein, Uncle Jam, Starchild, Lollypop Man the Long-Haired Sucker, can be seen in bands like Digital Underground, Outkast, Odd Future and the myriad of Dr Dre’s productions. The stage show has never been about choreography, or precise musicianship. It’s a party.
For those of us that want to grove but have absolutely no rhythm on the dance floor it’s comforting to live by the Parliament Funkadelic motto:
“Free your mind and your ass will follow”