I had to run into the city to do a few errands this afternoon, namely, taking Daisy into in.cep.tion cyclery for her annual
check tune up. Afterwards, I had some time to kill until my own Masters Spin Class so I decided to go to the gym a bit early and burn off a bit of this holiday fat I’ve been adding on the past few weeks. To help pass the time, I listened to the ‘Chocolate City‘ album by Parliament.
I’ve already run the whole gamut of Funkdelic at the gym months ago, and only recently have I started to start checking out it’s sister act, Parliament (also lead by George Clinton) but then somewhere along the way I got waylaid. I guess I’m taking that quest back on today.
Released in 1975, the album was intended as a “tribute to Washington D.C.”, where the group had been particularly popular. The album’s cover includes images of the United States Capitol, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial in the form of a chocolate medallion, as well as sticker labeled “Washington DC”. The popularity of the album in Washington D.C. was so profound that it sold 150,000 copies in that particular area.
This is generally considered the first “true” Parliament album and there’s a wealth of musical talent to be heard here – most notably Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell, and Eddie Hazel – and an emphasis on horns and harmony vocals. In fact, this album was the beginning of what would become the Holy Trinity of P-Funk: Clinton/Collins/Worrell. These three funkateers wrote just about all of the songs on this LP, and set the stage for the classic ‘Let’s Take It To The Stage‘ and ‘Mothership Connection‘ albums that followed. Unlike other successive albums, there’s no overarching narrative to fall back on and, instead, this is a collection of stand-alone songs, none topping the six-minute mark. The title cut is a masterpiece of smooth, Jazz-flavored Funk, with a dead-on-the-point narrative by George Clinton. The Funk continues to flow throughout the LP, until…’Let Me Be‘, a sparse, piano-driven, gospel-tinged testament, comes in out of nowhere, reminding the listener that this is Parliament-Funkadelic that you’re listening to, therefore expect the unexpected. Only Parliament-Funkadelic could interrupt a steady stream of Funk and throw in some good ol’, gut-wrenchin’ Soul.
I wouldn’t say it was my favorite of the Parliament-Funkadelic offerings, but it was, well, shall we “entertaining”, through a series of crunches, planks, and medicine ball push-ups. Certainly better than a kick in the junk, that’s for sure.