Computer Games – George Clinton

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“Which one is George Clinton?” Legend has it, that’s what audience members would ask themselves whenever they were witnessing a now legendary P-Funk concert back in the ‘70s. They finally got an answer in 1982 when Clinton decided to break out on his own and release his first solo album for Capitol Records, titled “Computer Games.” It featured his biggest hit single, “ATOMIC DOG,” which of course went on to become the most recognised and sampled P-Funk song of all time. But, more on that later. For now, let’s get stuck into another LP-Styled review… of an album that was purchased from a now very long-gone independent record store in the late ‘90s…. with the previous owner’s handwriting on the back cover in slightly cursive block letters: “SLOW FUNK.” “GOOD.” “HEAVY SOUL.” Forehead slaps and Face Palms are in full affect:

SIDE ONE:

GET DRESSED: Extremely funky opening cut that uses the same theme as “No Head, No Backstage Pass” by Funkadelic. “Close the door, I’m dressing!,” hollers GC. Lots of really great slapped bass lines are featured along with a “Greek chorus,” which they also used on “Flashlight.” However, on this particular track, it sounds very much like they’re saying, “Darling Mary.” Great horns from Fred Wesley on this one, too. It definitely sounds as though it was inspired by George Clinton’s on-stage banter, as it’s typical of what he does in concert: Hyping the crowd up and talking a whole heap of funky nonsense..

MAN’S BEST FRIEND: George takes a well-known phrase and turns it into the most thumping slice of funky music you’ve ever heard in your life. So, technically, this is the first “DOG” song on the record: “Fox can be funky. Brother wolf, he’s the guy.” If this doesn’t make you want to laugh or get off your ass and jam, something must be very wrong. Loads of congas are coming at you full speed ahead, along with a very strange-sounding piece of percussion, known as a Cuica from Brazil. One of GC’s alter egos from the Parliament days, “SIR NOSE D’VOID OF FUNK” makes an appearance and there’s even a reference to “Tear The Roof Off the Sucker.” Oh, this is P-Funk all right. “Man’s Best Friend” segues into…..

LOOPZILLA: “Don’t touch that radio, don’t touch that knob!” Prince quoted this line back in 1992 on the B-Side of his hit single “My Name Is Prince,” but of course it was “The Teacher,” as he later called him, who said it first. Quite reminiscent of Zapp’s “More Bounce to The Ounce,” which is indeed quoted along with a few Motown songs, such as “Dancing In The Streets,” “Sugar Pie Honey Bunch,” “Baby Love” and of course, Clinton’s own songs with Funkadelic: “One Nation Under A Groove” and “Knee Deep.” It also features a musical quote from Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message,” most likely why Clinton thanked him for the song in the credits. So many strange sounds can be heard in this one, which sound like apes or Tarzan-styled bird calls. But that’s the “P” for you. Weird is their middle name. Despite “Man’s Best Friend” and “Loopzilla” being tied together as one LONG Funk jam, “Loopzilla” actually has its very own eight-minute 12” version.

POT SHARING TOTS: As we all know, George Clinton first started out as a Doo-Wop singer in the ‘60s and this song most shows you that perfectly. Except its subject matter is outright disgusting and bizarre, as he’s singing from the perspective of a baby in a cot doing a strip tease. The late Junie Morrison is featured on the track, using a duck call whistle, which he would use a year later on the P-Funk All Stars ballad, “One Of Those Summers.” Maceo Parker is on here as well, but this is some Jerry Springer Adult Babies type of shit that needs to be, not just skipped, but permanently deleted. YUCK!

SIDE TWO:

COMPUTER GAMES: You can tell this album was released in the early ‘80s. Back then computer games were such a new and exciting thing that you would buy on a plastic cartridge and play through your TV screen. Oh, how times have changed. As for this song, it’s another great slice of early ‘80s Funk with slapped bass lines, funky-ass guitar riffs and yes, even more of the late Junie Morrison’s very bizarre duck whistle. Apart from that, George is, as usual, just clowning around, stating that he’s the “Computer Game named Dracula” who likes to “suck necks!” Junie then reprises his “Funky Worm”/ “Grandma” persona, stating that he is “Mother Funkenstein” and his son is crazy. More madness ensues as Clinton carries on with his clowning, with lines like: “I can out temp a tation! I can out break a chain! I can out seat a toilet!” He should add: “Good at acting a fool” to his resume.

ATOMIC DOG: Proof positive that the best songs are often created either by accident, or when the artist is incredibly stoned out of their minds. In the case of “Atomic Dog,” it was both, as Clinton literally stumbled into a recording session while the late Garry Shider and keyboardist Dave Spradley were messing around with a backwards drum track, which they had planned on normalising, until Clinton decided to ramble on about dogs as he continually grew impatient and paranoid as to when he was supposed to be coming in. Eventually, he stepped out of the booth and the remaining band members replayed the track. They then decided to musically build upon what Clinton had done, while the now late Ray Davis came in and added the iconic chant of: “Bow wow wow yippie yo yippie yay.” And the rest they say, is history. Not only did it become one of the most sampled hip-hop songs ever, it was later recorded as an entirely different, though much raunchier rap song called “Dog Talk” by a group known only as “K9 Corporation Featuring Pretty C.” Presumably this is Clinton himself under an alias.

FREE ALTERATIONS: Time for GC to get his doo-wop on again, but this time he’s got some very eighties synth lines behind him. It still makes you wanna snap your fingers to the beat while imagine yourself as a slicked back cat in the ‘60s wearing a pin-striped suit and strutting down the street. At the very same time, the message is somewhat blurred, as it features some rather melancholic lyrics about sons being killed and wanting to stop the violence, yet at the very same time he’s talking about suits and free alterations. Kind of a strange song.

ONE FUN AT A TIME: Here comes that weird duck call whistle again, while GC brings forth a funky love song about having “funny things to do.” It’s a great closer that’s filled to the brim with… innuendos, shall we say? But most importantly great harmonies, great synths and even an even greater horn riff from Mr Fred Wesley. Now that’s how you close a P-Funk album.

VERDICT: Yeah, this is the story of a dated Funk album. Once you get past that, along with other really bad stuff like “Pot Sharing Tots,” which constantly gets skipped over regardless, you’re left with a fairly decent debut album from The King of the Funk. And it sounds even better on vinyl. Believe that. Now stop reading all of this and dance, sucka!