Rocky Mountain Shakedown
"It ain’t nothing but a party, y’all, don’t let anyone bullshit you," George Clinton proclaims on this recording of Parliament-Funkadelic in full interstellar flight. And while it certainly is a party — the grooves here are unstoppable — Clinton is kind of bullshitting us. Beneath the outrageous costumes, the booty-shaking bass, the punning aliases and the sci-fi stage sets and special effects, P-Funk was as serious as a heart attack, a project with a conceptual thrust that feels as relevant today as it did in 1976. John Corbett’s (not this John Corbett) excellent essay, “Brothers From Another Planet,” firmly fixes the P-Funk universe in an afro-futurist lineage that includes Sun Ra and Lee “Scratch” Perry. Let’s get academic for a sec: “Ra, Clinton and Perry … build their mythologies on an image of disorientation that becomes a metaphor for social marginalization, an experience familiar to many African Americans, though alien to most of the terrestrial, dominant white ‘center,’” Corbett writes. “Staking their claim on this ec-centric margin — a place that simultaneously eludes and frightens the oppressive, centered subjectivity — the three of them reconstitute it as a place of creation.” Can you get to that? Well, regardless of where you can get to, you’ll agree that this show is a motherfucker, musically speaking. Parliament-Funkadelic was in the midst of its legendary Earth Tour, which resulted in a 1977 double live album of the same name. But I’m going to give this Mile High City bootleg the upper hand — the funk is so thick you can practically smell it. Extra props to Eddie Hazel for his ridiculous, nuclear bomb guitar work on “Comin’ Round The Mountain,” and the always amazing Bernie Worrell’s out of this world synth work throughout. If you believe in the Mothership, raise your hand!