Parliament - Chocolate City
George Clinton has recently turned 78-years-old and is currently finishing up his farewell tour with funk collectives Parliament and Funkadelic. Fortunately for fans Clinton's large body of work with those bands and as a solo artist (including the recent Parliament release Medicaid Fraud Dogg) remains available for the most part. And now UMe Records has done Parliament fans and vinyl lovers a solid by reissuing two classic Parliament titles from the mid-1970s. The Parliament lineup joining Clinton for Chocolate City includes bass man Bootsie Collins and keyboards man Bernie Worrell and the trio co-wrote about half of the album (all of Side 1) including the horns and piano-enhanced title cut. "Chocolate City," while not exactly Gil Scott-Heron, manages to make a point about racial equality while remaining upbeat, cloaking a serious message in fun lyrics. "Ride On," a great singalong where the song title comprises most of the lyrics, is also a hot dance groove especially crafted for those who really want to shake it loose. Another highlight of Side 1 is "Side Effects," a psychedelic funk groove relating what it feels like during a new love infatuation. Side 2 begins with the ominous, piano and synth-driven "Let Me Be;" the cut's earthiness comes from the vocals rather than the over-the-top funkadelia the band is known for. The brief and lively pop of "If it Don't Fit (Don't Force It)," the slow and bluesy "I Misjudged You" and the funk festival that is "Big Footin'" wrap up the album. Chocolate City is also available as a limited edition picture disc.
Parliament - Up for the Down Stroke
Released in 1974, Up for the Down Stroke finds Clinton working with approximately the same band as for 1975's Chocolate City. Split equally into four songs per side, the effort begins with the title cut, a Sly Stone-recalling anthem of sorts as horn lines, handclaps, electric piano and whistles power the uplifting funk number. A Side 1 highlight is the slow, simmering soul of "The Goose," a cut about being infatuated with a hot lover, featuring lyrics like "I'm as happy as a monkey with a peanut machine." And just like what might happen in the throes of an intense love affair, the song features a couple of brief freak-outs within its nine-minutes-plus groove. Side 2 begins with the funk set aside in favor of a sublime jazzy pop cut titled "I Just Got Back from the Fantasy, Ahead of Our Time in the Four Lands of Ellet" that also features a whistled melody from band member and songwriter Peter Chase. The mellow mood continues with "All Your Goodies are Gone" and "Whatever Makes Baby Feel Good" before the band dips back into the funk well for "Presence of a Brain." Up for the Down Stroke is also available as a limited edition pressing on red vinyl.
Anthony Rogers - One Day (A Journal)
Vinyl lovers will dig the way this third album from Rogers is presented; it's a double disc set with the first four tracks presented on a 33-RPM 7" EP with the remaining songs found on a standard 12" LP. "Mash" kicks off the effort; with its marching beat, woozy melody and "nyah nyah nyah" vocal chorus the song reminds of something that XTC might do. "Big House on the Hill," the closing cut on the 7" on the other hand, recalls one of Neil Young's lengthy and sublime guitar workouts (think "Cortez the Killer"). "Fly Away" adds gentle psychedelia to the mix, like the mushrooms are just kicking in; for "In the Water" they're fully in effect as Rogers meanders through a lysergic landscape, tossing in occasional Beatles references. While experimental moments abound here, Rogers is not so avant-garde as to be off-putting to the casual listener; most should find his musical melange to be quite charming.
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