Old/New Albums: Parliament’s “Up For The Down Stroke”

parliamentThis week’s album is as close to two albums by the same artist as I’ve gotten in this blog series. I’m listening to Parliament’s Up For The Down Stroke, and as I mentioned in my post on Funkadelic’s Let’s Take It To The Stage, the Parliament-Funkadelic collective was the brainchild of George Clinton and there was a lot of musician overlap between the two groups (Eddie Hazel, Bootsy Collins, Bernie Wornall, etc.).

This album seems less cleaned up than the other Parliament records I’ve listened to. Lots of Funkadelic weirdness, especially in “Presence Of A Brain” and “The Goose” (a nine minute song about a golden egg-laying goose…weird).

When the lines between Parliament and Funkadelic really start to blur, I’m less inclined to like the result. This album is a good example of that, with the musical weirdness of Funkadelic (there is a decently long whistle solo on this album, for example) on top of the space-alien mythology of Parliament (the whistle solo song is called “I Just Got Back (From The Fantasy, Ahead Of Our Time In The Four Lands Of Ellet)”). I like slightly more demarcated lines between the two groups.

That being said, there are a couple enjoyable tunes on here. “Testify” sounds like Sly & The Family Stone from Fresh or Small Talk era (Clinton and Stone were contemporaries; Clinton has cited Stone has a huge influence on his own career and musicianship). And “Up For The Down Stroke” was the tune I enjoyed the most, with the little funky flourishes like the weird two-step rhythm hiccup during the bridge.

To be honest, I was drawn to this album because of a D’Angelo connection (he’s covered “Testify” live), but aside from the title track, there’s not much that gets under my skin (and for that matter, the title track, my favorite, was more enjoyable when covered by Fred Wesley & The Horny Horns). I’m surprised and a little let down, because the Funkadelic album in this series definitely grew on me through repeated listens (as have a lot of these Old/New Albums) and I was hoping this Parliament record would as well. They can’t all be winners though.

Top 3 Tunes:

  1. Up For The Down Stroke
  2. All Your Goodies Are Gone
  3. Testify

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