Friday Full-Length: Funkadelic, Let’s Take it to the Stage

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 13th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

Funkadelic, Let’s Take it to the Stage (1975)

To be completely honest with you, I don’t think there’s a single album I’ve listened to more in the last year than Funkadelic‘s 1975 seventh album, Let’s Take it to the Stage. The only real competition would be their sixth, 1974’s Standing on the Verge of Getting it On, but even that I don’t think has had the same replay factor as this one, which front to back is amazing in its go-anywhere-and-kick-ass sense of freedom. From the megahook of the opening “Good to Your Earhole” — “There’s a good time waiting for you/Come on let’s get free” — to the slammed drums of “Baby I Owe You Something Good” and the Bach-via-BernieWorrell keyboard solo that closes out on “Atmosphere,” not to mention Bootsy Collins‘ spot-on Jimi Hendrix impression on the innuendo-laden “Be My Beach,” the taught-SnoopDogg-to-sing “This Song is Familiar,” the frenetic pacing of “Better by the Pound,” Eddie Hazel‘s unreal guitar tone throughout, George Clinton himself the master of it all, grinning wide as he talks shit on James BrownSly Stone and Earth, Wind and Fire in the title-track and sets up dramatic vocal arrangements on cuts like “No Head, No Backstage Pass,” “Stuffs and Things” and the kick-you-in-the-ass side B opener “Get off Your Ass and Jam,” it is an unfuckwithable full-length stretch rife with groove, soul and good times. This album turns 40 this year and it’ll still race your ass around the track.

I’m a big nerd for Funkadelic‘s 1970 self-titled debut, and Free You Mind… and Your Ass Will Follow and Maggot Brain were worthy follow-ups — the latter of course boasts Eddie Hazel‘s defining moment in its nine-minute guitar solo opening title-track, probably the bravest opener I’ve ever heard considering the relatively lighthearted fare that follows — and while I’ve dug 1972’s America Eats its Young and 1973’s Cosmic Slop well enough, there’s a dip there until ’74, when Clinton won back the rights to use the name Parliament and used that band as a more commercial dance venture and set about gradually bringing the two sides together. Parliament‘s 1974 release, Up for the Down Stroke, is a party on a platter, and of course 1975’s Mothership Connection would become their defining hour, but at the same time, Funkadelic was digging into their best blend of psychedelic heavy rock and funked up groove. Standing on the Verge of Getting it On and Let’s Take it to the Stage are essential, and to think of them coinciding with what was also the peak of Clinton‘s work in Parliament — which also released the Washington D.C. tribute, Chocolate City, in ’75 — makes it even more of a landmark era for the two, soon-enough-to-be-one groups.

If you’ve heard it before, I hope you enjoy another runthrough. If not, I hope you dig in with an open mind.

Closing out the week early, yeah. Yesterday was The Patient Mrs.‘ birthday, so we’re going into Boston this afternoon to go to the Museum of Fine Art and look at paintings, because she’s an adult who cares about stuff like culture and art and politics and I’m a manchild who’s into riffs and Star Trek. Should be a good time, but if it seems like I’m in something of a hurry to get this done and head out, I am. Already getting the “let’s go already” stink-eye and would rather prolong the issue as little as possible.

Monday, a track premiere from Terminal Fuzz Terror, whose weirdo fuzz experimentalism is to be released by Robotic Empire, and Tuesday, one from Chiefs, whose riffs are mighty. Also reviews of Elder and Blut next week and maybe more but I’m not promising because I don’t like saying I’m going to do things and then not getting to them. If you want to know what’s next after Blut, it’s the Mansion LP. If that’s next week or the week after, I don’t know.

You may (probably didn’t but that’s cool) have noticed there are less posts on the frontpage. Down from 15 to eight. And the Facebook like button only appears at the top of posts now. If you haven’t noticed, click refresh. Anyway, it’s just an attempt to make the site load faster. Hope it works. Everything else is still there if you just click through to Next Page.

Alright, I’m off. Hope you have a great and safe weekend. I hear my area of Massachusetts is getting hit Saturday and Sunday with another foot of snow to go with the ungodly amount we’ve already received. If that actually happens, I might just spend all of Monday listening to Sólstafir and write about that, so we’ll see.

Please check out the forum and radio stream.

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Friday Full-Length: Eddie Hazel, Games, Dames and Guitar Thangs

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 14th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Eddie Hazel, Games, Dames and Guitar Thangs (1977)

If you don’t know who Eddie Hazel is, before you click play above to hear Games, Dames and Guitar Thangs in its entirety — complete with covers of “California Dreamin'” by The Mamas and the Papas and The Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” — get yourself over to YouTube and check out “Maggot Brain” from the 1971 Funkadelic album of the same name. Here, I’ll even link it. Go get a feel for some of that brilliance and then come back and check out Hazel‘s solo album. Not surprisingly, George Clinton has a pretty strong presence on this record, but Hazel‘s lead work is astounding, and the groove fuses rock and funk in a way that few dared.

Maybe you’ll dig it, maybe not. It’s worth a shot, either way. This was the only solo record Hazel ever put out, though there were a couple releases that surfaced after his death in 1992. “Maggot Brain” is probably his most famous work with Funkadelic, though he wrote a good deal of their early stuff along with Clinton and a host of others and was a major contributor to 1974’s Standing on the Verge of Getting it On, which is something of a landmark in itself.

On Monday, I’ll have my Top 20 of the Year list posted. This past Monday, I wrote out a list with 40-someodd albums and I’ve spent the week whittling it down and living with it, feeling it out and all that and I think I’ve got picks I can live with in an order I can live with, so it’s time to get it done.

That might just take me all day working from front to back, but provided I’ve got time, I’ll also be reviewing the Queens of the Stone Age show from which I just returned a little while ago in Boston. I guess so far The Obelisk Questionnaire has been pretty successful. It didn’t break the internet or anything, but it seems to have gotten a good response. I could probably post another five in a row — actually, come to think of it, I definitely could — but though I’ve got a bunch in the can at this point, I’d rather slow the rate and not give it all away at once and then a month from now wonder what the hell happened. But one or two of those will go up for sure, so if you’ve been into that so far, keep an eye out.

I’ll also review the new Groan EP and take a look at some Dali’s Llama vinyl and a new tape from The Swill that’s a good bit of fun. I thought maybe of doing a huge review mega-purge, just taking all the 2013 releases I’m backed up on and giving them like 100-200 words apiece and posting it in a series so I can start 2014 fresh. Fairly certain that if I attempt such a thing my mind will cave in before it’s over, but it might be fun to try. It might also be fun to take a nap. We’ll see which impulse wins out.

Before I check out for the weekend, another round of thanks to everybody who has sent a list in for the 2013 Readers Poll. We’re up over 215 contributions with more than two weeks to go in the month, so I’m stoked. If you haven’t submitted a list, please, by all means. The results come out Jan. 1.

Have a great and safe weekend. See you back here Monday for that Top 20 and more. Please hit up the forum and radio stream.

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Friday Long-Player: Funkadelic, Funkadelic (1970)

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 1st, 2013 by JJ Koczan

It’s an album not of your world, but fear it not. I guess sometimes you just get into a groove on something, but I must’ve listened to the Funkadelic self-titled debut like six different times over the course of this week. Oh, my office was jammin’. Maybe not. Still fun though, and as much as anything’s ever been a classic, this is. Rocking this and the new Clutch record (review here) back-to-back, you really get to hear the Dan Maines blueprint in some of these songs. I also had Humble Pie‘s Smokin’ on in the car before. There’s some of that in there too.

Anyway, I couldn’t think of a better way to end a long, spaced-out week than this 1970 wonder, also long, also spaced-out. It’s a ham hock in your corn flakes. What part of the evening I didn’t spend wolfing down a calzone, I’ve spent watching Star Trek and feeling worn out. Two shows I missed tonight. Usually, I’ll miss one. Tonight, two. Mighty High played with White Dynomite, and Samothrace played with Bezoar and Pilgrim, both shows in a Brooklyn too far. A long, discouraging day at work that began with a $1,700 mechanic bill, and I’m broke, beat and ready to give it another go tomorrow. That Samothrace tour rolls into Philly for Saturday night. Think I might do the same if I can. Gotta put that new front suspension to work on something, might as well be I-95.


Thanks to everyone who checked in this week. I haven’t looked at the February numbers yet, but it seemed like things got a pretty good response in terms of people spreading around links if not necessarily comments on everything. So it goes. I guess I’m too wordy most of the time, by the time someone finishes (if they finish), they probably feel like too much has been said already. I can dig it. Sometimes I don’t have much to say either.

If I do wind up at that Samothrace show in Philly, look out for a review of that. Eggnogg‘s also got a gig somewhereabouts next Wednesday that I might try to hit up because I like those guys. Live reviews are a shit-ton of work — though I just bought a fancypants new lens for my camera last week and that adds to the fun — and when something lands as flat as did that Enslaved/Pallbearer review did, can be kind of a bummer. That one would’ve made a thud had anyone been paying enough attention to hear it. So it goes. They can’t all be gold, or Acid King, which the band was kind enough to share on Thee Facebooks. Acid King has been stuck in my head all week too. Not a complaint.

This week, I’ll also be reviewing The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic‘s new record and posting that Endless Boogie interview I alluded to last week or whenever that was. If you’re not familiar, that review is here and that record is awesome. I kinda got annoyed at the hierarchy of industry cool involved in chasing down track streams with labels and PR, so I’ve all but cut that out, but maybe I’ll try and get something going anyway, just for kicks. Not that we’re exactly lacking music around here anyway. Media blitz and shit.

Wherever you are and whatever you end up doing over the next couple days, I hope you have a great and safe weekend. See you on the forum if that’s your thing, which I hope it is. The Patient Mrs. and I are waiting to hear back on an offer we put in on a house in Massachusetts, so maybe one of these days I’ll have some good news to post that doesn’t involve somebody’s next record or European tour. If you’ll pardon me now though, I’m gonna uncross my fingers before I go to sleep. Okay.

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