The Original Parliament can best be described as the "soul" of Parliament
Funkadelic. Having provided the vocal backbone of the early Parliaments in
the60s on through the various mid-70s incarnations of the
ParliafunkadelicmentThang, they were an integral part of the well defined
sound of George
Clinton's budding P-Funk empire. When you attempt to evaluate the p-funk vibe
throughout the seventies its hard not to pinpoint the departure of Fuzzy
Haskins, Calvin Simon and Grady Thomas after 1977's funk opera, the 2 record
"Parliament Live" set ( Ray Davis would actually stay with the George Clinton
troupe well into the 80s before joining up with Roger Troutman's Zapp
multitude). The aforementioned trio first resurfaced with 1981's "Connections
and Disconnections" lp on Greg Errico's fledging Lax label. Although commonly
dissed in the current new school p-funk fan base, this album was probably
closer to the true, old funk sound of pre-75ish Funkadelic than anything
Clinton had done since then. Unfortunately the album is best remembered for
it's controversial, sarcastic jabs at George on songs like "The Witch" and
They resurfaced in the music industry again in 1997 at the Rock and Roll Hall
of Fame Induction ceremony where they shared the stage with William "Bootsy"
Collins and George Clinton and the P Funk All-Stars for the first time in
over20 years. The group pounded out a rollicking medley featuring
Parliament's"Give Up The Funk" and Funkadelic's "Free Your Mind". The
then hit the road with the addition of Ray Davis' bass vocals and a backing
unit that includes Ray's son Derrick on bass, Grady's son Gene-O and Billy
Mimms on guitar as well as drummer/bassist Ben Powers, Jr. According to
Fuzzy,the group's objective is to "perform these songs the way they were
be, with super tight arrangements and clear well-defined harmonies".
has turned out to actually be a review of Parliament's legendary Mothership
Connection Earth Tours (sans the flying saucer of course).
Now busting out of the studio comes "What Dat Shakin'". a 7 song collection
of party jams and mixes. The whole vibe of the project is not only that life
is for the living but that love is for the giving. Cuts like "35 Years"- a
spellbinding ballad paying homage to the journey thus far, with lyrics like
"we were born to be together long ago, George, Calvin, Fuzzy,Grady and Ray"
and "we landed the mothership a thousand times along the way", the song has
areal bluesy, gospel feel all over it. This is a darling of the live shows,
too. On the studio version Ben Powers provides an almost Bootsy-like bass
sound as the fellas harmonize "we love you and we thank you" over the fade
The title track appears on the cd as 3 separate mixes. Its the best tribute
tothe 'big black ass' since James Brown's "Take a look at those Cakes" and
Sir-Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back". You get the regular studio mix, a 'live' in
the studio mix and the remix. They all feature solid drum programming, some
interesting percussive strokers and clangers over a straight ahead dancefloor
assault. Shades of Funkadelic's "Undisco Kidd" (as in " the girl is sooo
badd!") as the "queen of jeans" as Calvin describes her, steps on past the
boys in the club and leaves them "looking dazed in a trance/while this lovely
lady that God created asked each one if he wanted to dance".
Calvin is not
only an outstanding singer but a damn good rapper too, he shows his chops on
these various mixes. The live studio version is the fave here though, it
really has the 'nothing but a party' vibe on it plus they let the guitarists
Gene-O and Billy Mimms really crank it and go for theirs, its a rocking mutha
On "Funk for You" the group combines some Funkadelic style layered guitar
rythums with hip hop raps and the results are pleasingly invigorating. "Party
Down People", co-written by long time p funk bass master Rodney "Skeet"
Curtisis just that, a permit to party as hard as you want tonight, ya'll can
when its your turn, excellent guitar work from Billy Mimms with a hard rock
stroke on it. The song continues the flavor of the whole cd and puts you back
in the barbershop days of the early harmonizing between these guys. Its a
reallaid back earthy kind of flow and we gonna have a good time tonight no
what anybody says.
"Hot Fudge Brownie Girl" closes out the set with a tribute to that super
fine,pretty black-skinned honey of all your fantasies. With "lips so smooth,
so round, skin so dark/like the night, eyes like stars, bright as the sun",
"thats the way I like my hot fudge brownie girl". Calvin Simon leads the
vocalassault as he does on most of the selections on this cd. Sounds like he
not missed a beat since the early Funkadelic work on songs like "I'll Stay",
"Open our Eyes", "Fish Chips and Sweat", "Qualify and Satisfy", "Can't Shake
it Loose" and "Baby I Owe You Something Good".
So its the soundtrack for Saturday Night Old Skool Basement parties across
thenation and beyond. The contributions of the Original Parliament to George
Clinton's thang cannot be overstated, they got their own thang now though.
These cats aren't just some come lately baking vocalists,but are seasoned
veteran performers who know and take their craft and talent seriously and
still want to "Tear the Roof Off the Sucker'. So don't pop "What Dat Shakin'"
into the cd player unless you and everybody within earshot is ready to get up
offa that thang and try to release some pressure to this finger-popping beat