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Essential Listening: George Clinton

Essential Listening: George Clinton


Time again for us to pay tribute to one of music’s greats, and this time we’re celebrating the wonderful George Clinton. The master craftsman behind P-Funk thanks to his role as head of both Parliament and Funkadelic, Clinton holds the rare privilege of being named in the same breath as James Brown as one of the great innovators of funk music. A dealer in psychedelia, a founder of funk and an embodiment of soul, it is no wonder that Clinton has been called upon by the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Snoop Dogg for collaborations and sampling, during a career which has made him well deserving of a spot in the Ticket Arena Essential Listening archive. Here are five of our favourites.

George Clinton - Atomic Dog
“Dogs of the world unite”, sounds Clinton’s call to arms, and in come a bunch of cool cats with sing-the-way-they-want vocals, a rough-edged synth melody and a drum beat that slaps and slaps and slaps. 

Parliament - Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker)
A creaking bass guitar; a handful of vocal chants catchier than pox; a splash of space age organs - turn up to Ready Steady Cook with these in your bag and there’s only one thing’s getting dished up: a timeless funk classic.

Funkadelic - Maggot Brain
Clinton took more of a background role on the 1971 album Maggot Brain, with Eddie Hazel instead allowed to show off his virtuoso guitar talent with the likes of the album’s opening track. A meditative blend of gentle melodies and scuzzy solos, “Maggot Brain” builds on an understated arpeggio but leads you through a maze of delayed guitars on its way from Zeppelin contouring to Hendrix-esque wahs and then back to where it came from. 

George Clinton ft. Prince - Paradigm
George will have a lot of high-profile collaborations to look back on, and this track with The Artist (Formerly Known As Prince) is up there with the best of them. Prince’s vocals are expertly arranged both in the forefront and the shadows of the track, with the bright guitar riffs that cut up the backdrop adding real warmth to a track that is paradigmatic of slow and sleazy funk and soul. 

Parliament - Flash Light
A descending bassline and a scratchy guitar fit together for a vintage bit of P-Funk, with glorious vocal harmonies and plenty of ad libbed samples for that coveted live feel. This one can be listed as another Clinton-inspired frenzy which will never fail to get people up and onto the dancefloor.

The ever-young George Clinton will be busy this summer as he journeys between the likes of Tramlines and Lovebox on the festival route, and can also be caught at Liverpool’s O2 Academy on July 29th.  

Words by Andrew Kemp
Photos courtesy of Tramlines
 

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