Funkentelechy Vs. The Placebo Syndrome (1977)

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Track Listing:

Bop Gun (Endangered Species)
	{G Clinton, Garry Shider, W Collins}  8:29  lyrics
Sir Nose D'Voidoffunk (Pay Attention)
	{G Clinton, B Worrell, W Collins}  10:04  lyrics
Wizard of Finance
	{G Clinton, Ron Ford, Glen Goins}  4:23  lyrics
	{G Clinton, W Collins}  10:56  lyrics
The Placebo Syndrome
	{G Clinton, Billy Nelson}  4:20  lyrics
Flash Light
	{G Clinton, B Worrell, W Collins}  5:46  lyrics

Personnel ("The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein"):

Vocals: George Clinton, Ray Davis, Glenn Goins, Garry Shider, Debbie Wright, 
 Jeanette Washington, Lynn Mabry, Dawn Silva, Cordell Mosson
Keyboards & Synthesizers: Bernie Worrell
Guitars: Michael Hampton, Glenn Goins, Garry Shider, Catfish Collins
 on "Flash Light"
Bass: Cordell Mosson
Drums & Percussion: Jerome Brailey, Bootsy Collins 
Horns: Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker, Rick Gardner, Richard Griffith, Clay Lawrey,
 Darryl Dixon, Valerie Drayton, Danny Cortez

 "Bop Gun"
Lead Vocal: Glen Goins
Background Vocals: Lynn Mabry, Dawn Silva
Bass: Bootsy Collins

 "Sir Nose"
Lead Vocals: George Clinton, Ray Davis
Bass: Bootsy Collins

 "Wizard Of Finance"
Lead Vocals: George Clinton

Lead Vocal: George Clinton
Bass: Bootsy Collins

 "Placebo Syndrome"
Bass: Billy Nelson

 "Flash Light"
Lead Vocal: George Clinton
Sax Solo: Darryl Dixon
Bass Synth, Synth: Bernie Worrell
Guitar: Catfish Collins
Drums: Bootsy Collins

Rating: GZ ***** RC ***** MM *****


GZ: Highlights include "Flash Light." Absolutely essential.

TK: Jerome Brailey said that "Funkentelechy" was the first song he cut with the Mob back in 1975. Contrary to album credits, Bootsy is the only bass player on this album, with the exception of "Placebo Syndrome" (Billy Bass) and possible "Wizard Of Finance" (Boogie). Of course, Bernie does bass synth for "Flash Light". The album credits mainly serve to identify the touring entourage.

RC: This is the seminal Parliament concept album, and the most politically ambitious. Clinton combines gotta-dance jams with clever and subtle satire, poking fun at complacency and the consumer society. "Flash Light" is a philosophical and musical orgasm. Clinton dips deep into pop culture, using nursery rhyme ("Baa Baa Black Sheep" and "Three Blind Mice") and cartoon ("I hate those meeces to pieces") references in "Sir Nose" (combined with the Looney Toons horn riff). He also refers to various commercials ("You deserve a break today") and game shows ("Would you trade your funk for what's behind the third door?") in "Funkentelechy." The album introduces the Sir Nose character, a catch-all for unfunkiness, fakeness and hypocrisy. Clinton also took shots at disco, which he called the Placebo Syndrome.

The album starts off in grand style with one of Parliament's most engaging guitar riffs, interlocking perfectly with the ultra-solid bass playing of Cordell 'Boogie' Mosson, the unsung hero of this album. By this time, most of the original Parliament singers had left, pushing lead vocalists Shider & Goins even further into the spotlight. Female background vocalists were being used more and, and these soulful ladies were a big part in producing the beautiful high-end harmonies that contrasted well with the low-end nastiness. "Bop Gun" stars Glen Goins, telling us about the weapon that will protect us against the Syndrome; call on the funk and dance, and you can defeat the forces of death. Funk is a force for life, for freedom, for total free expression. The song does perhaps go on a bit too long, but the groove is so solid that you don't even care. "Sir Nose" is another of the most important of Parliament's creations, introducing us to the enemy of funk and life who could be you, if you're not careful. He brings the syndrome, and is too cool to dance. Cool = stasis here, taking away freedom. This is one of Clinton's best vocal performances, reprising his role as Starchild, archenemy of the Nose. While teasing Sir Nose playfully, the choruses mutate nursery rhymes into hilarious drug references (`Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool?/Yes sir, yes sir, nickel bag full!` and `They all ran after the farmer's wife/Turned on the fun with the water pipe`). Musically, the bass groove on this song is unmatched by any other. "Wizard Of Finance" is a more traditional vocal showpiece, with upfront horn leads. The lyrics are clever, comparing finding love to trading on Wall Street. "Funkentelechy" is a monstrous cut, featuring some of Clinton's most cutting and witty lyrics, talking about how those in control pimp people's search for pleasure in order to control them. "Funk is not domestically produced", it can't be bought, it can't be sold, it can't be commodified. Funk = free will, freedom, intelligence. Clinton brings in game show and commercial imagery, showing the essential shallowness of the consumer society. Funk is a way to deprogram us from that conditioning. The track also happens to feature more great bass line, a funky guitar riff, and a complex but tasty horn arrangement. "Placebo Syndrome" details how someone can be led into the Syndrome, by taking life for granted. Musically, it's far less interesting than the other tracks, though the horn work stands out in places. The capper was Parliament's first #1 hit, and deservedly so. "Flash Light" is one of the all-time great dance songs, but that only begins to describe its brilliance. It starts with the solid but unobtrusive drumming of Bootsy, allowing the other instruments to stand out. It's anchored by the shining guitar riff of Catfish Collins, one of the greatest examples of rhythm guitar ever. And it stars Bernie Worrell, who propels the song with an addictive bass-keyboard line while keeping us engaged on the high end with tasty synth explorations. The song on the surface sounds like a simple chant song, but one can hear the battle being raged between life and death here...can Starchild make Sir Nose dance? As depicted on the album cover, he shoots the Bop Gun at him, and Sir Nose must yield. `There's nothing that the proper attitude won't render funkable`, and so it happens. Openness overcomes fear, as `everyone's got a little light under the sun.` And the `ha-da-da-dee-da da-da hava da da`, (based on a Jewish Bar Mitvah chant) is one of their most engaging chants.

This album seriously challenges Mothership Connection as P.Funk's best overall album, taking previously established ideas to new and exciting levels. It proves that it is possible to create something popular that is still challenging, exciting and revelatory, both on the lyrical and musical levels. Try and find it on vinyl, because it included a comic book detailing Starchild's battle with Sir Nose done by Overton Lloyd, as well as a huge poster.

MM: "Flash Light", "Sir Nose", and "Funkentelechy" are fabulous. "Bop Gun" is only above average IMO.

MW: "Flash Light" was originally recorded for Bootsy's Rubber Band's first album. Bootsy didn't like it and gave it to George. Due to the song's success, fans would bring flashlights to the concerts. After a while, P. Funk sold their own brand of flashlight at their shows and would sell up to 3,000 a night.