Thursday, November 30, 2006

Early Parliament

Parliament's first album, Osmium (1970), doesn't fit in neatly with the rest of their catalogue. It doesn't sound much like the slick, pop-oriented funk that would characterize later Parliament albums starting in 1974 with Up For the Downstroke. But neither does it sound exactly like the full-on freaky psychedelic/funk hybrid Clinton and company would create under the Funkadelic moniker starting the same year.

On the whole this sounds more like a Funkadelic record than a Parliament one, but with greater emphasis on the funky than the freaky. I don't think George Clinton quite had the master plan nailed down in 1970, and this sounds like an embryonic version of what would follow. But that in no way detracts from the overall quality of the record itself. The album starts with a version of "I Call My Baby Pussycat" that is funkier and superior to the one that was re-recorded by Funkadelic for America Eats It's Young, and contains other hit-worthy tracks like "My Automobile," "Funky Woman," and "Nothing Before Me But Thang." It also has the hilarious "Little Old Country Boy" which is unlike anything else in Clinton's catalogue.

The album was originally released on Invictus, a label formed by the Holland/Dozier/Holland team after they split from Motown in 1968. "Invictus" is Latin for "unconquered" and also the title of a poem by William Ernest Henley with an interesting history, and like the P-Funk phenomena itself, reflects the spreading influence of the black-power movement at the dawn of the 70s. Osmium has been reissued numerous times, under numerous titles, by numerous labels, sometimes with bonus tracks, sometimes without. As far as I can tell, the bonus tracks haven't been on an in-print edition of the album for years, which is too bad because they were taken from singles that were just as good as anything on the album proper if not better. Here is one of them--this is some funky stuff.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mighty!

I have been deep into this album since a good pal played it for me back in '95 or so. It rocks incredibly hard, sounding like MC5's "High Time" in points. Why Why Why don't bands sound or, better yet, feel like this, anymore?

Warning - I once hung this record on the door. The door went through the floor. True story.