As part of my duties with the YMCA as a volunteer is to understand and be knowledgeable about certain practices and procedures necessary to working with others successfully. Part of this means that particular training is sometimes required as it is tonight with the “Child, Youth and Vulnerable Persons Protection Policy and Procedures” training. So while Kelly and HRH are off doing Christmas-y stuff including a trip to Swiss Chalet for dinner, I’m cooped up in a tiny lunchroom for two and half hours with about 11 other volunteers discussing abuse, neglect, and other ungodly things that I’d just as rather dispense from my mind altogether over the holidays. Ho! Ho! Ho! Sweet Mother of Hades, save me.
Anyway, before this all went down I figured I’d slip in my planned weights session since UI had to be there anyway and get some enjoyment out of the evening. Well, as much “enjoyment” as there is to be had while ripping apart your various muscle fibers. One good thing for sure is getting to listen to the next Funkadelic album on my planned “To Get To” hit list, the ‘America Eats It’s Young‘ album released in 1972.
This was the first album (their 4th album release in total) to include the whole of the “House Guests”, including Bootsy Collins, his brother Catfish, Chicken Gunnels, Rob McCollough and Kash Waddy. So, yeah, guys called Bootsy, Catfish, Kash and Chicken…probably the weirdest line-up of band member names, like, ever. It also features the Plainfield based band U.S. (United Soul), which consisted of guitarist Garry Shider and bassist Cordell Mosson, on most of the tracks. Eddie Hazel barely plays on this album at all as he was running into all sorts of trouble, of both the substance kind and the legal kind. Unlike previous Funkadelic albums, it was recorded in Toronto, Canada, as well as in the UK.
In short, it’s a disparate, schizophrenic record. In describing the album, George himself says:
“I took all the different things and threw the shit all together”
Yup, that sounds about right. Certainly the most unusual Funkadelic album, ‘America Eats Its Young‘ sounds little like the band’s earlier records and even less like it’s later ones. Honestly, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I have the others. Stylistically, it cover the blues, classic R&B, psychedelic rock, Motown, and the social-political upheaval of American culture that started in the 1960’s. It comments on just about every controversial issue in the culture at the time yet, to me it says very little at all. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some cool funk tracks here like ‘Loose Booty‘, (featuring some superb driving bass from Collins, and a stunning exploratory Clavinet solo from Worrell) which is more a glimpse of the future, complete with what would soon be a George Clinton signature – the dirty nursery rhyme. Bootsy himself sings a rock and roll tinged rave-up, the riotous and groovin’ ‘Philmore‘ and then there’s the borderline sleazy feel to ‘I Call My Baby Pussycat’. Aside from those, well, it was largely forgetable and I was kind of glad when the workout was over (well, not really given the the training I had to take afterwards was more akin to being repetitively kicked in the shin with a steel toed boot, but you get the idea).Maybe you had to be there and present in that time, who knows? I kind of felt the same away about this album as I do about, say, certain Frank Zappa albums. While I recognize that there is definitely artistic and poignant merit to it, it just didn’t resonate with me the way the previous albums have so far. Less talkie and more funky George. Hopefully the next album get back on track a little more with what I appreciate about the whole sexy funky Funkadelic vibe thing.