1981, Music

The Electric Spanking of War Babies (7/10) by Funkadelic

This feels to me a little bit like Funkadelic re-imagined for the ’80s – many of the tropes of ’70s Funkadelic are here in full, but there are signs that musical technology is slowly changing.

This certainly isn’t the best set of material for a Funkadelic record, though there are still a bunch of catchy melodies. But the strength of the songs is rarely the point with Funkadelic, right? I don’t think as many people would listen to a straight up ’70s funk band – say Tower of Power – making this music.

The lyrics are ridiculous as usual. There is, as usual, some attempt to make a greater statement if you can spend the time trying to parse everything, but that is also not why I listen to Funkadelic.

I listen to Funkadelic for two reasons, the first of which is their inimitable mix of funk and musical weirdness. And even though most of the band has changed over at this point – and this band has more in common with Clinton’s backing band going forward than it does with ’70s P-Funk – that combination is here on this record. There are the grooves, there are the idiosyncratic lead vocals, the gang vocals, the weird sound effects and, of course, the guitar solos. (Even if Hazel is only here for one track, there’s still plenty of fretwork fireworks.) When you look at the credits, it sure feels like it was just assembled together from a bunch of different sessions, but it sure doesn’t sound like it, which is to Clinton’s credit.

The other thing to his credit, and the other thing I listen to Funkadelic for, is Clinton’s rather incredible ability to get dynamically sounding yet sonically dense records. He really is an underrated producer I think. This is no different than other Funkadelic records – there are so many tracks weaving in and out, and so many things going on and yet you can still feel the grooves like you should on a funk record.

Some people say this is one of their best but I don’t think I’m there. Still, it’s got basically everything you want in a Funkadelic record.


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