The Popstream: Funkadelic, "I'll Stay"
David Hansen's already given you a good reason or two to check out George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars when they come to First Ave tonight, but I might as well pile on the fanboy ravings while I'm at it. The Mothership has encompassed some of my favorite music of all time, and yeah, a lot of it's the well-known and loved heavy funk hits like "Flashlight," "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)" and "One Nation Under a Groove". But the stuff they did in the first half of the '70s, when they were a heavier-than-heavy psychedelic-soul/acid rock band, picked up right where the late Jimi Hendrix was leaving off, and that stuff's just as choice. You might know Maggot Brain, or at least its mindbending 10-plus-minute Eddie Hazel guitar solo showcase title track, and the snarling funk of "Cosmic Slop" is a cult favorite, but just about everything they released was great -- with 1974's Standing on the Verge of Getting It On being a personal favorite.
One of the reasons Standing on the Verge... is a personal favorite is because it hits on nearly every pre-Parliament facet of the group's personality (the Horny Horns, crazy synthesized basslines and Funkensteinian conceptual mythos would come a little later). You've got your grimy, down-South funk ("Red Hot Mama"), a heavy rock monster that'd make Foghat recoil in terror ("Alice in My Fantasies"), a proto-disco soul jam ("Sexy Ways"), and a stomping title track that encompassed all of the above. And on top of that, they had one of their most heartwrenching ballads, a rewrite of an old R&B tune Clinton wrote in his pre-funk days with the doo-wop-derived group The Parliaments, and something people my age probably first heard in the early '90s as a sample on De La Soul's "Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa". "I'll Stay" is one of my favorite underrated P-Funk songs: it's not especially saucy or absurd or trippy (aside from whatever the line "her head went out to play" invokes), and not too many people go to a P-Funk All-Stars show for the mournful, downtempo ballads, but this one slays me every time. To make things just a bit more spaced-out than they might be otherwise, one enterprising YouTuber synced this song up with a bizarre 1935 animation from the obscure Van Bueren animation studios, in which sunshine-worshipping dwarves do battle with depression-fueled goblins. I'm not sure if the song makes the cartoon seem more psychedelic, or vice-versa, but they complement each other well.
Buy Standing on the Verge of Getting It On on Amazon.com
(Consumer warning: a recent reissue/remaster heavily edits down a few songs for no good reason; try and get the original CD issue, where "I'll Stay" is a full 7:16 or so.)
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