Parliament’s 1970 Debut, ‘Osmium’

osmiumI’m not sure if it was seeing old school funk n’ R&B masters Cameo on Friday night that launched me into the frame of mind (probably is), but I’m knee deep into that sound, and in the middle of a Parliament and Funkadelic listen-a-thon the last couple of days. Particularly, I’m hooked in to the early stuff for both of George Clinton’s sister acts. The debuts for both bands came the year I was born: 1970.

I’ve been really digging on Osmium, the debut from Parliament. What a wild, psychedelic, completely unexpected ride where you have no clue what strange and funky sounds are lurking around the next corner. The album has a lot more to do with the guitar-oriented psychedelic soul sound of Funkadelic than the 70’s Parliament funk / Bernie Worrell synth sound they came to be known for (with songs like “P. Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up)”, “Flashlight”, “Up For The Down Stroke”, etc.).

Indeed, it’s the guitar work of Eddie Hazel and Tawl Ross that shines strongest on Osmium – amid the cacophony of unique sounds. There’s soul, Hendrix-inspired rock psychedelia, gospel flavors, and hell, even a country-inspired tune called “Little Ole Country Boy”, which was written by British-born Ruth Copeland. She was married to Motown producer Jeffrey Bowen. When Bowen started producing for the upstart Invictus Label, and Parliament became one of its first signings, Ruth Copeland ended up co-producing the Osmium album with George Clinton, and wrote a couple of the tracks (“The Silent Boatman” being the other).

“Little Ole Country Boy” has a very infectious chorus that will have you singing along after repeating 3-4 times, which you will do because it’s so – out there… I mean, this is Parliament? Awesome!

Oh, and De La Soul fans, you’ll recognize this yodel in “Potholes In My Lawn” from their debut, 3 Feet High & Rising.

Buy Osmium

The Friday Five: February 10, 2012

Friday Five

Friday Five : ‘frī-(,)dā,-dē ‘fīv : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes, then share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

The Five:

N.T., Parts 1 & 2” by Kool & The Gang (from Cutmaster Swift Presents: The Breaks, Volume 2, 1999)

Prior to penning the wedding band anthem “Celebrate,” Kool & The Gang dropped some of the funkiest instrumental breaks this side of Parliament-Funkadelic. Originally featured on 1971’s Live at PJ’s, the “N.T.” actually stands for “No Title.” No points for originality there, but it more than makes up for it’s lack of an original title with its sprawling funk movements.

O.P.P.” by Naughty by Nature (from Tommy Boy Presents: Hip Hop Essentials, Volume 11 (1979-1991), 2006)

I dare you to listen to this record without bobbin’ your head.

Pastime Paradise” by Stevie Wonder (from Songs in the Key of Life, 1976)

Seems as if we’re shuffling between the bedrock of hip-hop breaks and a hip hop classic. Where Kool & The Gang’s nameless jam supplied the breaks for Kool G Rap’s “Truly Yours” and Nas’ “It Ain’t Hard To Tell,” Stevie’s “Pastime Paradise” was the bedrock of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise.”

Gratitude” by Beastie Boys (from Check Your Head, 1992)

Ha! Here’s a funky bit of irony: track 16 on the Beastie’s Check Your Head, it’s a groovy little track called “Live at P.J.’s.” That aside, I’ve always loved this track.

So Alive” by Love and Rockets (from Sounds of the Eighties: 1989, 1995)

Dammit, iTunes! You had me going.

What’s on your shuffle today?

P-Funk: Um, Yeah, I’ll Have Some of What They’re Having

I have one of these sweet little Apple Airport Express gizmos that allows me to play my iTunes on any stereo inside or outside my house. So when it was time to string up the Christmas lights this past weekend, my 4 year old girl and I fired up the iTunes, set it to shuffle, and took to the front yard with wild holiday abandon.

What I didn’t realize was that earlier in the day I had filtered my iTunes to show me only “parliament”. So what ensued was 90 minutes of the P-Funk discography on shuffle. Okay, no one – not my 4-year old or my passing neighbors – realized the intensity of this Spontaneous P-Funk Christmas Light Hanging Ceremony, but I sure funked out in delight for an hour and a half.

It made me rediscover some of the gems of their catalog, including some tunes that jumped out at me for their uncharacteristic qualities. Like this song. This isn’t the P-Funk your ears expect. You hear it, and you’re wondering what it is you’re listening to. A mellow, otherworldly, fantasy-like rhythm; Peter Chase’s melodic, bird-like whistling solos. What a cool little P-Funk nugget.

ParliamentI Just Got Back (from the Fantasy, Ahead of Our Time in the Four Lands of Ellet) [mp3]

Buy: Up for the Down Stroke (1974)