1970, Music

Free Your Mind…and Your Ass Will Follow (1970) by Funkadelic

Over the last 20 years my tolerance of directionless jamming and freakouts has gone from very high to relatively low. (I say relatively because I still have a much higher tolerance than, say, your average pop listener.) And this is my biggest problem with some Funkadelic as, in the early days in particular, they could be pretty directionless. Had I encountered this record when I first set out to listen to Funkadelic twenty years ago (but somehow failed to do so), I think I would have had a lot higher tolerance for the title track.

But right now, I can’t say that I do. I don’t know if it’s the relentless panning, the repetition of the title and random screaming, or what, but I just couldn’t get into it like I am sometimes able to get into Funkadelic’s longer tracks. It seems like a pretty good solo from Hazel but the panning is so distracting I honestly forget sometimes I’m listening to a pretty good solo. (Honestly it’s like Anthem of the Sun or something.) I have a high tolerance for weird music but I guess that tolerance is waning.

As for the rest of the record, well it’s typical early Funkadelic, in that it is inconsistent. I feel like this was more forgivable on the first record because it was the first record. But what I will say for this one is that the influences of Hendrix and Sly Stone feel far less overwhelming. (Though the latter is still a very clear influence.) I guess my feeling is, whatever you think of the title track is no determinant of what you think of the rest of the record. Yes, diversity is a good thing but it feels like the album is sequenced to scare off anyone who isn’t into weird music. (Maybe that is a good thing, I don’t know.)

So I’m stuck trying to figure out how much of this is my current mood, or ageing, or both, and how much of it is the record’s fault. And I’m leaning towards my mood. I can probably foresee a world in which I actually really like this, even more recently than 20 years ago.


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