The cover of this album, which features a head shot of George Clinton, foreshadows the fact that funk’s preeminent soothsayer may be becoming more conservative in his later years. On his four solo albums for Capitol, Clinton chose the provocative illustrations of Pedro Bell, the same artist responsible for Funkadelic’s wild covers. But this is the funkmeister’s first effort in more than three years and his first for Prince’s Paisley Park label (Who could have fathomed 10 years ago that Clinton would end up on Prince’s label? What an amazing business!). Is Clinton mellowing or not? Let’s take a closer look.
Clinton has assembled an array of P-Funk veterans — including Bootsy, Blackbyrd McKnight and Garry Shider ― for a generous dozen tracks. It kicks off with “Airbound,” a light and airy tune that glides along nicely. The collection’s clear-cut standout, “Tweakin’,” is next. Featuring rapping by Public Enemy’s Chuck D and Flavor Flav, this song is the only one that rekindles that classic Clinton sizzle. The sequel to the 1982 standard “Atomic Dog,” “Why Should I Dog You Out?,” is an indication that perhaps Clinton is resting too much on his last laurels. The bulk of the rest of the LP, including a pop-ish cover of Harry Belafonte’s “The Banana Boat Song,” sounds like outtake material.
As far as grooves go (and let’s face it, that’s the essence of this artist’s appeal), this is not one of Clinton’s most memorable outings. It seems apparent that the classic and innovative hooks that he used to carve out with such regularity have dissipated into off-the-wall quirkiness and retreads. Make no mistake about it, these statements are coming from a Clinton fanatic. To be fair though, Bernie Worrell, the Horny Horns, Eddie Hazel and Michael Hampton are conspicuously absent. However, word has it he has gathered most of the original Funk Mob for Funkadelic’s new album and tour. Now, that would be a welcome development. Until then, as as long as Dr. Funkenstein keeps pluggin’ away, we’ll keep the faith.