This week on Mom’s Pick, I’m exploring the eighth wonder of the world: Parliament’s funky album from 1976, Mothership Connection. Surprisingly, I don’t even think this album belonged to my mom; If anything, it’s probably my dad’s. Nonetheless, it’s still in the family, just the wrong parent.
To be perfectly honest, I really can’t imagine either of my parents listening to this album without being stoned. The space-centric album is definitely… out of this world. I actually had the privilege to see George Clinton, Parliament and Funkadelic frontman perform last month alongside relics such as Miguel Atwood Ferguson, BadBadNotGood and Nai Palm. Listening to this album after seeing him perform clicked and he’s still got the funk as a 75-year-old man.
The album featured members of James Brown’s backing band, Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley for the first time. Mothership Connection is regarded to as one of Parliament’s best work, the first to actually go platinum in sales.
Though only seven tracks long, the funk is overwhelmingly overt. The album begins like you’re entering a new dimension, broadcasting live from outer space. “P-Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up)” invites listeners to “to get funked up,” through back-beat drums and strong horns. The bass line especially lures you in, hypnotizing you into a trance of funk. Being the first track, P-Funk succeeds in setting a consistent and central tone throughout the entirety of the album.
Notable tracks include “Unfunky UFO” and obviously “Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker).” “Give Up The Funk,” I feel, was the very first funky song I heard. It was a real introduction to funk with a catchy hook, catchy horns, and catchy instrumentation all together.
The album is solid for the most part, but I was a little taken aback by the track, “Handcuffs.” Funky to say the least, it was also surprisingly objectifying towards women. A question occurred to me: Does this one song take away from the rest of the album? Yes and no. The album is undoubtedly a true masterpiece of funk, but I can’t look at it and not think about the very unnecessary and suggestive lyrics in “Handcuffs,” such as the line, “I think you won’t mind if I’d be possessive [of you], now would you?” It’s interesting to see how relevant this track is today in terms of feminism and women’s rights, especially with the current Trump fiasco.
That being said, remove “Handcuffs” from Mothership Connection, and it’s a smooth-sailing listen all the way through. To conclude, stay funky, don’t objectify women, and PLEASE don’t vote Trump.