Uncle Jam Wants You (1979)

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Track Listing:

Freak of the Week
	{G Clinton, P Bishop, DeWayne McKnight}  5:32  lyrics
(not just) Knee Deep
	{G Clinton, Jr}  15:19  lyrics
Uncle Jam
	{G Clinton, Garry Shider, B Worrell, W Collins}  10:24  lyrics
Field Maneuvers
	{D Clinton, D Clinton}  2:24  
Holly Wants to Go to California
	{G Clinton, B Worrell}  4:24  lyrics
Foot Soldiers (Star Spangled Funky)
	{G Clinton, Jim Vitti}  3:32  lyrics

Personnel ("Funkadelic Rescue Dance Band"):

Guitars ("Axe Force"): Michael "Kidd Funkadelic" Hampton, Gary
 "DooWop" Shider, Eddie "Maggot Brain" Hazel
Keyboards ("Keyboard Battlecruisers"): Bernie (U.S.S. Woo!) Worrell,
 J.S. Theracon
Drums ("Uncle Jam's Drum and Wiggle Corps"): Tyrone "Speedfeet" Lampkin, 
 Larry Fratangelo
Bass ("Bass Anti-Flam Units"): Rodney "Skeet" Curtis, Cordell "Boogie" Mosson
Vocals ("Vocal Assault & Funkatition Team"): Uncle Jam Clinton,
 Gary "DooWop" Shider, Larry "Sir Nose" Heckstall, Sheila Horn,
 Ron "Prophet" Ford, Jeanette McGruder, Dawn Silva, Michael "Clip" Payne, 
 Greg Thomas, & Ray "Stingray" Davis

Additional Musicians:
Gtr: William Collins, Dewayne McKnight & Glen Goins
Bass: Billy Nelson, William Collins & Jeff Bunn
Kbrd: Junie Morrison, Gary Hudgins & Gerome Rogers
Drm: Tiki Fulwood, William Collins & Dennis Chambers
Back Vcl: Linda Brown, Jessica Cleaves, Mallia Franklin, Philippe Wynne, 
 Lige Curry, James Wesley, Greg Boyer & Gerome Rogers 

 "(not just) Knee Deep"
Lead Vocals: Garry Shider, George Clinton
Scat Solo: Phillipe Wynne

 "Uncle Jam"
Lead Vocals: Phillipe Wynne, George Clinton

 "Holly Wants..."
Lead Vocal: George Clinton 

 "Foot Soldiers"
Lead Vocal: George Clinton

Rating: GZ ****1/2 RC ****1/2 MM ****1/2


GZ: Uncle Jam is a solid continuation with the title track and "Field Manoevres". Side One is a killer with "Not Just Knee Deep" and "Freak of the Week", I take off half a star, 'cos I can't stand "Holly Wants To Go To California". Ballads were never a P-Funk's strong suit.

MM: "(Not Just) Knee Deep" is probably my favorite Funkadelic track clocking in at over 15 minutes. "Freak Of The Week" is a grand groove also. "Uncle Jam" and "Field Manoevres" are decent too.

RC: The cracks in Funkadelic's armor start to show a little here, with an album that attempts to continue the "One Nation" theme, militarizing it a bit. The problems start when half of the album consists of two dance songs that have little to do with the rest of the record. The cover of the album says that Funkadelic is 'rescuing dance music from the blahs', and the double shot of "Freak Of The Week" and "(not just) Knee Deep" do just that. Superior bass playing and drumming propel songs that are repetitive vocally, sometimes to the point of distraction. It's difficult to listen to the middle portion "Knee Deep" sometimes, where the chorus keeps repeating 'something about the music'" This is less of an issue on the dance floor, but part of Funkadelic's greatness was producing music that you could dance to madly, but still sit down and listen to it intently, enjoying the music's subtleties. Still, that song has everything but the disco's sink in there, with great drumming by Bootsy, an amazing scat solo by new Funkadelic Philippe Wynne, and perhaps Michael Hampton's greatest solo. The song also has a sense of humor, another pleasing contrast to the rest of what passed for dance music at the time, and even now. 'Oh no, not the moose!' The credit for "Knee Deep" went to George Clinton Jr, and the story supposedly goes that GC, Sr gave him a credit as a graduation present. I have heard others say that this story isn't true, so take it with a grain of uncut salt.

"Uncle Jam" picks up on side two, one of Funkadelic's funniest, funkiest, groovin'ist songs. The rhythms are extremely complicated but still very danceable--truly, it was the opposite of disco. Wynne picks up the lyrics again as the world's funkiest 'thrill sergeant', telling us 'I know it's early, but you gotta get down.' It weaves in traditional U.S. army march calls and tunes seamlessly with the funk. Unfortunately, the rest of the side smacks suspiciously of being some hastily assembled studio leftovers, tasty as they are. "Foot Soldiers" and "Field Maneuvers" are basically excuses for Michael Hampton to get off once again, and he's the clear highlight of those songs. One of the strangest Funkadelic entries, the piano bar ballad "Holly Wants To Go...", sticks out like a sore thumb but is loads of fun anyway. Hearing Clinton very much alone out there, cracks in his voice in all, is a great moment. The atmosphere of that song, with an "audience" mumbling to themselves in the background, adds to the nice flavor of the song.

The real problem with this album are the lyrics, which are disappointing when compared to One Nation. The nature of Funkadelic's talent is that they could come up with an album that's so entertaining (with more than a few classic moments) in such a rush. But I think the concept could have been better served with a bit more attention to singing and lyrics. Still and all, this is an important album, and it should be recognized as a big piece in the funk puzzle.