PARLIAMENT — Mothership Connection (review)

PARLIAMENT — Mothership Connection album cover Album · 1975 · Funk Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
After three albums that showed much potential and occasional inconsistencies, Parliament brings it all home on this one. Some albums are almost perfect and this is one of them. Possibly the best funk album of all time, all those well-worn party chants that p-funk is famous for can be found in these grooves. When RnB singers are trying to pump the crowd and grabbing for something to say, it’s a good chance what comes out of their mouth is a repeating line from this gem. ‘Tear the roof of the sucker’, ‘we want the funk’, ‘make my funk the p-funk’, ‘if you hear any noise’, ’you got a real type of thing gettin down, goin down’, and so on, they are all here.

Some of these songs are not the most complicated you’ll hear from George Clinton and his crew, but its those vocal chants that stick with you forever that make this one work. Many of the songs are built around those famous party anthems backed by a simple effective drum beat and not much else. In difference to Parliament’s usual thick polyphony, the simplicity of the arrangements is a lot of what makes this one work so well. Most of the arrangements are relaxed and give room for individual horn and synthesizer lines to snake in out of the mix in a constant flow of creativity. Although most of the tunes on here utilize that laid-back flowing improvised minimal approach, ‘Unfunky UFO’ breaks the formula and brings us classic p-funk chaotic polyphony with a circus like atmosphere with the constant barrage of interlocking horn, synthesizer and vocal lines.

The playing on here is superb. Bootsie Collins’ insanely syncopated bass lines with the bizarre flanged out sound brings funk to another level. Keyboardist Bernie Worrell plays a stack of synthesizers and keyboards and mixes prog-rock, classical, jazz and avant-garde influences into some of the most creative keyboard work of the 70s. He’s easily a match for some of the more hyped multi-keyboard names of the era such as Keith Emerson or Chick Corea. The real star though may be the arrangements and the way George Clinton’s little spoken word parts and asides make everything flow just right. There is not a single wasted note in these arrangements, everything falls together perfectly as if by grand design. What is more likely though is that Clinton let his creativity flow and trusted the cosmos to make he and his friends improvisational and relaxed approach work, the result is beautiful synchronicity on a level that is beyond mere mortals.
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