Alex Floro
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Reminisce with M.I.S.S.: Parliament Funkadelic

Paging Dr. Funkenstein, we’ve got something serious you need to take care of: M.I.S.S. is feeling extra funky this week. Strap on those platforms, put those hot pants on and get ready to groove with Parliament Funkadelic.

You might not believe it, but the group has its roots in 50s doo-wop, getting together in Plainfield, New Jersey. George Clinton, arguably the band’s signature member, formed the group in a barber shop with Ray Davis, Fuzzy Haskins, Calvin Simon and Grady Thomas. They were styled after Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers, but developed a soul and funk-infused sound as they entered the 60s and 70s. Finding success in only one of the singles they released, in 1967 they hired five more backing musicians to go on tour.

While on the road, their record company had fallen bankrupt and, in order to continue recording, bassist Billy Bass Nelson came up with the name Funkadelic for the backup band. To make a long story short, the singing component of the collective as a whole is known as Parliament and the band traveling with them is known as Funkadelic.

Can You Imagine George Clinton & Parliament Clean Cut?

Taking cues from Frank Zappa and Jimi Hendrix, PF began to experiment with sounds that would eventually lead them in creating a whole new genre of music: P-Funk. Some speculate the name simply comes from the shortening of the group’s name, others have argued that it stood for Plainfield Funk (from the town Clinton grew up in). Nonetheless, from 1975 through 1979, the group began to find major success with the albums and singles they released. Many albums Parliament or Funkadelic released can be confused as efforts released together. While members of the collective would obviously work with one another, it is important to point out albums that are  strictly released by Funkadelic or Parliament

One of the most influential albums to come out of either group is 1978’s One Nation Under a Groove by Funkadelic. As is any album related to PF, the album was a concept album, stemming from the “mythology of P-Funk” (which could very well be a separate write up). Essentially, the album stresses the power of P-Funk as a tool to release your mind and be free.  The title track off the album was a major hit for the group, and is included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll. In the song, Funkadelic likens dancing as a way to escape, stressing to listeners to use it as a way to reach freedom. Whether you believe that or not, there is no doubting it will make you get out of your seat and bust some moves or, at the very least, bob your head.

Parliament-Funkadelic have given us many treats over the years, from the stylings of Clinton’s dreads, to the official Funk University for bassists everywhere, to (some may argue most importantly) the basis for some of the greatest songs in hip hop. The group’s single Atomic Dog is one of the genre’s most sampled songs, with everyone from Redman, Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube (who’s sampled it on seven separate occasions) all using it to produce hits.

So let’s tip our hats and trip on… some good music to the one and only Parliament Funkadelic, for taking us on their Mothership to places we never knew music, or our minds, could ever go.

Groove To These Hits From Parliament Funkadelic:

One Nation Under a Groove

Atomic Dog

Bring the Funk

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