R & B Skeletons In The Closet (1986)

(George Clinton)

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Track Listing:

Hey Good Lookin' {Steve Washington, Garry Shider, G Clinton}  6:03
Do Fries Go With That Shake {St Washington, G Clinton, Sheila Washington}  5:57
Mix Master Suite: {G Clinton}  8:40
	Startin' From Scratch
	Counter Irritant
	Nothin' Left To Burn
Electric Pygmies {G Clinton}  6:38
Intense {G Clinton}  6:28
Cool Joe {Andre Jackson, G Clinton, Kevin Burke}  4:17
R & B Skeletons In The Closet {G Clinton}  4:44


Producer: George Clinton

 "Hey Good Lookin'"
Producer: George Clinton, Stephen Washington
All Instruments: Stephen Washington
Guitar Overdub: Bootsy Collins
Vocals: Vanessa Williams, George Clinton

 "Do Fries Go With That Shake?"
Producer: George Clinton, Stephen Washington
Bass, Drum Programming, Trumpet: Stephen Washington
Keyboards: Amp Fiddler, Stephen Washington
Guitar: Andre Williams, Blackbyrd McKnight

 "MixMaster Suite"
Producer: George Clinton
Piano, Clarinet: Ed Johnson
Flute: Maceo Parker
Drum Program: Fred Johnson
Scratch/Mix: Anthony Bryant
Orchestra: Ed Johnson, Paul Hochalter, Jim Hay, Murray Adler,
 William Reichenbach, Donald Ashworth, Rick Marotta

 "Electric Pygmies"
Producer: George Clinton
Vocals: Sandra Feva
Fairlight Programming: Z O
Keyboard: Gambas
Guitar: Steve Salas
Drum Programming: Z O

Producer: George Clinton
Vocals: Stefan Frank, Debra Barsha

 "Cool Joe"
Producer: George Clinton, Andre Jackson

 "R & B Skeletons in the Closet"
Producer: George Clinton
Background Vocals: Sandra Feva, Pat Lewis
Fairlight Programming: Z O
Fairlight: David Spradley
Sax: Maceo Parker

Other Musicians:
 Trombone: Fred Wesley
 Piano: Loic Gambas
 Timbales: Lelan Zales
 Keyboards: Andre Williams, Kevin Burke, David Spradley,
  Stephen Washington
 Guitar: Jack Sherman
 Bass: Stephen Washington

Rating:  RC: ***  MM: **


RC: The theme on the album is reflected in the title track, talking about how soul music of the time totally ignored the music that came before it and influenced it. All of the current acts had 'R&B skeletons in the closet', they just wouldn't admit it. Interestingly, within three years, every hip-hop artist would be giving props to P.Funk and/or James Brown. George takes it upon himself to do sort of an overview of Afro-American music. The music still unfortunately sounds somewhat hollow, with the wide use of drum machines and an overabundance of keyboards, but he still manages to get some interesting things across. Working mostly with ex-Slave member Steve Washington, as well as some old P.Funk singers like Sheila (Horne) Washington and Pat Lewis (from his 60's work), as well as debuting Vanessa Williams, he mixes and matches elements from hip-hop, jazz, hard funk, disco funk, and rock.

"Hey Good Lookin'" is notable for Bootsy's vocals and guitar, and is a decent dance number. Vanessa Williams appears here for some nice overall wordplay. "Do Fries Go With That Shake" spawned a minor hit, and it was a funky "Knee Deep" type number. The song's concept, fast food-loving, isn't exactly deep and runs out of steam pretty quickly. The title is the most clever thing about it. "Mixmaster Suite" is one of Clinton's most bizarre experiments ever, fusing standard hip-hop turntable elements with dixieland horns. It's interesting, but doesn't quite hold together. "Electric Pygmies" is a slightly tedious dance track that draws on Africa for its inspiration. "Intense" is a solid rock-funk tune, riffing on some James Brown-isms. "Cool Joe" is easily the album's best song, a hot and loose cautionary tale about a pimp who loves blow a little too much. The horns and the sleazy keyboards make it stand out against the slickness of the rest of the album. It also features a great performance from George, with one of his classic half-singing/half- rapping acts. "R & B Skeletons..." makes its point rather plain quickly, naming James Brown and Funkadelic as groups that people shouldn't forget. The song's overproduction dulls its impact, however. The highlight is Maceo Parker's sax solo.

Overall, the album is a little more intelligent than You Shouldn't-Nuf... and more interesting musically than Some Of My Best..., but it's not as strong as either in both of those departments. There are a few important songs here, and a good concept, but things become bogged down. I think a lot of it was the fact that Steve Washington had a strong influence here, and his slickness combined with too much of an electronic dominance hurt it from the start.

This album is out of print, although it shouldn't be hard to find a used tape, LP or even CD somewhere. I wouldn't pay much for one, though--$10 max. As always, another excellent and hilarious cover from Pedro Bell. The centerpiece is a circa-1950's drawing of George, looking like a member of the Temptations, with the inscription below it reading, 'With just a little more effort, George could be a fine credit to his race'.