Category: Parliament

Parliament – Up for the Down Stroke

ARTIST: Parliament                                      Parliament-Up_for_the_Down_Stroke_(album_cover)

TITLE: Up for the Down Stoke

YEAR RELEASED: 1974

CHART ACTION: #17 R&B

SINGLES: Up for the Down Stroke (#63, #10 R&B), Testify (#77 R&B)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: All Your Goodies Are Gone

LINEUP: Bernie Worrell, Eddie Hazel, Bootsy Collins, George Clinton, Gary Bronson, Ron Bykowski, Raymond Davis, Tiki Fulwood, Fuzzy Haskins, Cordell Mosson, Calvin Simon, Grady Thomas

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: George Clinton re-interoduces Parliament to the masses – making it a lighter, horn based funk band.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The core musicians are the same, but the addition of James Brown’s horn section (somehow uncredited) and the return of Bootsy Collins brought a more commercial funk sound than the hardcore guitar funk of Funkadelic.

The title track starts out everyone with a big ol’ party track, and then the group goes into a cover of the original Parliaments big hut. As the record moves along, they ‘cover’ a couple of Funkadelic tracks and more commercial versions of what was going to become the P-Funk sound. It’s not always successful, but Clinton had the right idea.

The success of this record encouraged Clinton to keep both names and release albums by both in their particular style, and the 70’s funk scene was never the same!

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The saga of the Parliaments / Parliament and their record companies is twisted and worthy of a chapter in a book.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, alternate mixes and an outtake

 GRADE B+: They’re still figuring out how to make a commercial version of P-Funk, and the party drags a bit, but it’s still a fun record for the most part.

Parliament – Osmium

ARTIST: Parliament  220px-Realosmium

TITLE:  Osmium

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: I Call My Baby Pussycat, The Silent Boatman

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No

LINEUP: George Clinton, Fuzzy Haskins, Calvin Simon, Ray Davis, Grady Thomas, Ruth Copeland with Funkadelic: Eddie Hazel, Tawl Ross, Billy Bass Nelson, Mickey Atkins, Tiki Fullwood.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: George Clinton reactivates his vocal group after a contract dispute, merges them with his Funkadelic musicians, and makes an early version of P-Funk’s R&B / Funk fusion.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: George Clinton’s Funkadelic turned some heads with their acid funk albums, but that group was still mainly the backing band for his vocal group, Parliament (changed from The Parliaments thanks to a contract dispute). They had a hit in the late 60’s but the contract woes sidelined them until they got a deal with Motown’s subsidiary, Invitcus, to record this record.

Make no mistake, this wasn’t a return to the vocal group soul that got them their hit. This record features some great singing sure, but the songs are weaving around some pretty decent funk. The singles above are prime examples of the merger of the two bands, with “Pussycat” being heavy and raucous and “The Silent Boatman” brought gospel to the funk (something Clinton would keep coming back to on later Funkadelic releases).

The public wasn’t quite ready for this, and Funkadelic soon hit big with the Maggot Brain album, so Clinton pulled the plug on this side of his empire until the mid-70’s.

NOTES & MINUTAE: Osmium is an apt title – it’s the densest metal, and this was pretty dense funk. Also, this is not streaming and you need to search for an import CD online. A couple of semi-legal releases also exist (First Thangs and Rhenium).

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION:  Yes – they released a couple of singles after this and one of them, Breakdown, hit #30 in the R&B charts (#107 on the regular chart).

GRADE:  B+: A darn good merger of a vocal group with funk. Not every track works, as usual with Clinton’s empire, but those that do are fantastic. It’s worth seeking out if you are a student of the funk or 70’s soul.