“If you will suck my soul, I will lick your funky emotions.”
More psychedelic than Hendrix, more rifftastic than Zeppelin, more funky than Brown…ok, maybe more on a par with Brown…more acid fried than the Grateful Dead on their best day. This be Funkadelic, the George Clinton brainchild that’s pretty much responsible for some of the absolute best and most experimental/inspirational music of the early ‘70’s, and absolutely responsible for The Red Hot Chili Peppers (for better or for worse) and a lot of the drek of the funk-metal craze of the late ‘80’s, early ‘90’s. Oh, and they’ve been sampled by the hip-hop community almost as much as James Brown, maybe more if you take the time to tally it up.
They had in them a guitarist, Eddie Hazel, that is perhaps THE greatest unsung axe hero of all time; one listen to his 10+ minute ‘solo’ in Maggot Brain’s title track should convince anyone that this is a stone cold fact. He makes Jimmy Page look like Steve Jones (no offense to Mr. Jones).
Keyboardist Bernie Worrell got his start here; Bootsy Collins, after a particularly bad experience in the James Brown Band (on acid and on stage, the neck of his bass turned into a snake), joined and was very much responsible for the mid ‘70’s sound of Funkadelic, as well as their image.
They were weird; scatological to the extreme in some cases (this is the aspect the Chili Peppers glommed onto for their early recordings, even going so far as enlisting Clinton as producer for Freaky Styley. They also brought in Wayne McNight, one-time Funkadelic guitarist, to replace their own Hillel Slovak after he died of a heroin overdose), but never to the detriment of the music, only to add a little humor, a very important element that is sometimes forgotten in the funk genre.
The best place to start is the 2003 compilation “Motor City Madness”, a 2-disk compilation that contains 29 full length (for the most part) essential album tracks and singles. The booklet is impressive and tries, successfully, to make sense of the revolving door of musicians that have done time in the Funkadelic camp. It is a truly indispensable collection.