Tag Archives: funk


(Post by John Allan from Bridgetown, Western Australia – March 2022.)

George Clinton & co

If I were to say to you Make my funk the p-funk, I wants to get funked up, would you a) nod with a slight wry smile that says I dig or b) seek a restraining order.

If it’s a) then you have some idea of the George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic story.  If b) you’re confused by the connection between mostly old white men in suits gesticulating in chambers and something you might hear in Austin Powers movies.

Let me take you back to 1956 New Jersey where young George Edward Clinton worked in the barbershop were all the cool kids hung out. Young George and his friends straightened and slicked back their hair, got sharp suits and matching ties and sang doo-wop.

The Parliaments

Rejected by Motown for being too similar to The Four Tops or The Stylistics, The Parliaments finally got a record deal in 1967 with Revilot records in Detroit and recorded (I Wanna) Testify. Clinton added5 more musicians to accompany the singers and after touring for a while, the band realised they couldn’t keep up the image. Their hair was dishevelled, their suits grubby and ties mismatching. They were on the crest of the hippy wave so decided to dress (or undress) accordingly and let the music (with the help of a few stimulants) become more free.

Due to contractual difficulties with Revilot, the band were temporarily unable to use the name Parliament and so became Funkadelic, the latter being more rock guitar influenced by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Vanilla Fudge and Sly and the Family Stone. If you listen to the track Maggot Brain (what becomes of your mind after too much LSD apparently) you’d be convinced you were listening to Hendrix or Led Zeppelin.

George Clinton & Bootsy Collins

Parliament took the slightly more commercial route and with the help of Bootsy Collins (brother of Catfish of course) and the Horny Horns from James Brown’s backing band moving toward a more funk, rhythm and blues sound.

Two names, two record companies but basically the same core of about 10 musicians which combined to create the P-funk.

Live shows with a cast of up to 20 characters (singers, dancers, narrators and musicians) all dressed up somewhere between a Star Trek convention, Mardi Gras and a voodoo sacrifice. Space ships descending from the heavens were lapped up by the stoner fans as more of a tribal ritual than a rock concert.

Mothership Connection was the stand out album for Parliament in 1975 with it’s tight grooves, quirky horn riffs and it’s call and response chanting.

One Nation Under A Groove by Funkadelic in 1978 another highlight of the enterprise.

Album covers became cartoons with characters coming to life in live shows, the more exuberant, bizarre and over the top the better.

Parliament: ‘Mothership Connection.’

Eventually Clinton’s empire came crashing down in the late 70s after a series of bad management decisions and continual feuds with record companies. The circus was over.

George reinvented himself to a lesser degree with the P-funk All Stars in the 1990s and 2000s with a bit less razzmatazz and (illegal stimulants)

The P-funk influence is widespread. Just look at Prince and Earth,Wind and Fire for example.

Parliament/Funkadelic are the most sampled group used in Hip Hop today. Every Dr Poop Doggie Doo Showaddywaddy and his motherf#*cker stanky hoe has looped some P-funk in their time. To his credit, Clinton released several P-funk riffs for the sole purpose of being sampled so he wasn’t such a bad businessman after all.

I remember being introduced to this seductive sound in fellow musician Robin’s Hillhead flat one wintry afternoon in the mid 70s. With no more than a strong coffee, we skinny middle class white boys were bopping around his kitchen with gay abandon as if there was no tomorrow.

But there was .

Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Of The Sucker)

only so much oil in the ground.

(Post by John Allan from Bridgetown, Western Australia – March 2022.)

Oil drums.

There was an advert in my local newsagent:

Farmer wants to sell a dozen 55 gallon drums of diesel

Willing to exchange for 4 bedroom house with pool.

A joke for these times perhaps but Oakland, San Francisco funksters Tower of Power were aware of the problems of extracting fossil fuels way back in the mid 70s.

I came across ToP from a cheap sampler album I bought back in about 1975. I was attracted to The Warner Bros. Music Show LP mainly for the price and the fact it contained music by The Doobie Bros. and Little Feat but along with Graham Central Station were a couple of gems from ToP.

The boys in the band weren’t going to squeeze into your standard Transit van without a fair bit of discomfort as there were 11 of them. Most importantly a 5 piece horn section who would go on to contribute to many an artist’s sound. Think The Bitch Is Back by Elton John or Hip To Be Square by Huey Lewis & The News.

Among the horn section are the band’s main songwriters Stephen ‘The Doc’ Kupka and Emilio Castillo. Not only able to provide first degree funk, they can also turn their hands to soulful ballads. They collaborated with British songstress (and my schoolboy crush) Linda Lewis on  Not A Little Girl Anymore. (Pause while I wipe the drool off the keyboard !)

Linda Lewis

A very young Lenny Pickett, later Saturday Night Live band director solos on this track from the album Urban Renewal.

The rhythm section were no slouches either driven by the pulsating 8 note riffs of the late Francis ‘Rocco’ Prestia. Many a bassist has succumbed to repetitive stress injury attempting only 2 verses and a chorus in Rocco’s style. Add the no nonsense snare, hi-hat, bass drum combo of David Garibaldi and you’ve got a rhythm tighter than a duck’s arse at 10 fathoms. With the tasteful chops of guitar, Hammond B3 and conga you’re in hipster heaven.(What Is Hip is another one of their classics and we’re not talking joint replacements !)

Only So Much Oil In The Ground must be played at maximum volume, preferably with headphones as you are bombarded by the sheer sonic force of the horns and organ intro. Once you’ve but your false teeth back in and adjusted your toupee, singer Lenny Williams soulfully explains the world’s dilemma

There is only so much oil in the ground
Sooner or later there won’t be much around
Tell that to your kids while you driving ’round downtown
That there’s only so much oil in the ground

We can’t cut loose without that juice
Can’t cut loose without that juice
If we keep on like we doing
Things for sure will not be cool
It’s a fact we just ain’t got sufficient fuel

Tower of Power

It’s only when your feet stop tapping and your body fat comes to rest that you realise how important this message is – AND THIS WAS FROM BACK IN 1975 !!


What we’re gonna do right here is go back … way back, back into time.

Come on – who didn’t read that line in the deep, gruff, drawled accent of Jimmy Castor on his 1972 million seller hit, ‘Troglodyte.’ You know, the soundbite that’s been used in the past to herald ‘oldie’ songs on radio shows from the Emperor Rosko to Johnnie Walker?

And that’s just what we plan to do here at Once Upon a Time in The 70s‘go back …way back, back into time.’

Co-founder Paul and myself grew up in suburban Glasgow during the late 60s and through the 70s. Looking back now at some of the strife and strikes of the time, historians may consider the decade to be one of bleak decay.

To us though, it was filled with colour and imagination and fun and laughs. And of course fights, skint knees and corporal punishment in school.

But what did you make of it all? We’d love to know!

Please check the Contact page for details on how to submit your stories.

(Jackie – February 2021)