Before the September 1978 release of Funkadelic's tenth album, George Clinton and his Parliament-Funkadelic collective were nothing more than a cult attraction. The platinum-selling album 'One Nation Under a Groove', however, changed all that, and is nowadays regarded as one of the very best albums ever made - of any genre. 'Rolling Stone' would place it 177th in their list of 'The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time' in 2003.

The title track, released as a single went Top 30 in the US chart and hit the top 10 in the UK in December 1978, going on to sell over a million copies. Anyone not familiar with Clinton's style could do a lot worse than start here.

Part of the appeal was the larger-than-life Clinton himself. With his multi-coloured dreadlocks and offbeat if rather zany personality it was hard not to fall for his warm smile and charm. Rather like the black sheep uncle of the family, not everyone may fully approve but you still cannot help being drawn in. Sooner or later he had the listener under his spell,and you could not help but join in.

Clinton, rather like jazz pioneer Sun Ra, created his own mythology around himself. A larger-than-life character that drew on comic superheroes, science fiction and the idea of the hustler/prankster. Concerts were elevated from the run-off-the-mill gigs to events worthy of any overblown, flamboyant stadium act. The highlight usually being the descent of the 'Mothership' - a custom-built spaceship - from the venue's rafters amid a haze of smoke, lights and chanting and Clinton would then make his grand entrance, often wearing nothing more than a sheet and a pair of cowboy boots.

It also helped that he drew from a rich musical heritage that encompassed the likes of soul, rhythm and blues and progressive rock - not to mention some impressive guitar soloing that any rock axe hero would be proud of. Sly Stone, James Brown and Jimi Hendrix all became bed-fellows for Clinton.

While the line-up of the band was almost constantly changing important additions came in 1972 when Clinton included several former members of James Brown's backing band - significantly bassist William 'Bootsy' Collins and his brother Phelps, who had played on Brown's hit 'Sex Machine'.

On first hearing the title track, it could easily be mistaken for a hippie-ish call for everyone to come together, united in groovin' on down to the hedonistic funk - and the song's ability to do just that is hard to deny - but while it was a world away from the politicised 1972 album 'America Eats Its Young' there was more going on than a naive philosophy of 'let's party'. Drawing on the country's Pledge of Allegiance of "one nation under God", the 'one nation' idea encompassed spiritual and personal growth and, in an era, when there were racial and socio-economic divisions within the USA, everyone coming together was rather radical for the time.

By the time Funkadelic came to record the album in early 1978 United Sound Systems in Detroit had been modernised and upgraded to a 24-track studio. The improved recording facility allowed Clinton to greatly expand the band's sound, giving it greater depth and complexity - allowing the funk, soul and rock elements a free rein to run riot.

And the album pulls all those aspects together without letting one genre dominate, although funk underpins it all. Collins' bass is let loose on 'Cholly (Funk Getting Ready to Roll)'. 'Grooveallegiance' is a weird hybrid of funk and reggae, and 'Who Says a Funk Band Can't Play Rock?' with its driving chorus and 'Lunchmeataphobia' play up the band's rock credentials.

The band's trombonist Fred Wesley summed it all up: "The band went through every genre of music from James Brown type funk to Jimi Hendrix type rock, with extremely musical vocals - R&B vocals, gospel vocals - and even some classically inspired keyboard renderings from Bernie [Worrell]. They also made full use of the latest electronic effects. All played with serious funk attitudes."

The album certainly is "music to clean your shit by".











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