Parliament, Funkentelechy Vs. The Placebo Syndrome

Of Parliament's sometimes uneven output, an inevitable symptom of one band trying to maintain two identities, there are bright spots in the discography and this may well be one of their brightest. If Funkadelic's political aspirations made it the heavyhanded conscience of the P-Funk collective, Parliament's party atmosphere made it the funky soul, and right around 1977 or so was just about when the two personalities' artistic expressions were at their most individualized and distinct. Is it any coincidence, then, that this album was recorded right around that time? More developed and musically accomplished than The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein and far more intelligent (and much less puerile) than Motor Booty Affair, this is some of their best work as the end of the disco funk era came in view. We start getting funky with "Bop Gun (Endangered Species)" and point it right at "Sir Nose D'Voidoffunk" complete with bizarrely twisted nursery rhymes and even a Warner Bros. cartoon sting backed by a blissfully luxuriant full funk band. The standout track is "Funkentelechy," a clever subversion of psychobabble and corporate sloganism ("You might as well pay attention," intones George Clinton, "you can't afford free speech") backed by over ten minutes of beat and bass and bounce. Even the minor tracks are excellent, including the beguiling "Placebo Syndrome" and the amusing if slightly out of place "Wizard of Finance" in which the vocalist describes his love for his lady in terms of diversified financial instruments. Other than the ridiculous cover art, though, the only unforgiveable thing about this album — and boy is it a whopper ("have it your way!") — is closing with the cheap-out 5'46" album mix of "Flash Light" instead of the almost 11 minute 12" single. A classic P-Funk groove, its quality is best appreciated in its quantity, requiring modern completists to buy the Tear The Roof Off 2-disc retrospective to enjoy it in the expanded runtime it deserves. (Content: oblique drug references, "funk" as thinly-veiled alternative expletive.)