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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Funkadelic – America Eats Its Young May 19, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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Some P-funk for a change, so let’s sit back, consider how things have changed in the 40 or so years since “America Eats Its Young “was produced – and perhaps consider how little things have changed in those same years, and raise a toast to a selection of music that even now has the power to move. But of course, it should damn well make us move – that’s the way it’s written. If this seems like a typical George Clinton production, aided and abetted by Bootsy Collins et al, well, that may be true, but somehow it cohere’s perfectly for me.

Sex, politics – some curious gender politics too – it’s all here. So we have America Eats Its Young, Wake Up!, You Hit the Nail on the Head and If You Don’t Like the Effects, Don’t Produce the Cause, and for a little bit of optimism there’s Everybody is Going to Make it This Time. And if there’s more than enough food for thought in all that, well and good. Because talking about getting us to move, then we have Loose Booty, Philmore, I Call My Baby Pussycat and so on. There’s relatively little bloat here, only three tracks tops six minutes, only one seven minutes, and most are considerably shorter.

What’s striking is how broad the range of influences are. There’s more than an hint of glam about the intro Philmore, the perfect pop – distorted by their own particular vision, of That Was My Girl should have been a massive hit, and the guitars are amped up a bit on Balance – to good effect. And all the while there’s so much detail to listen to, though that said, sometimes this is oddly sparse music, but there’s so much happening it’s as if the framework of the songs is unable to fully contain the ideas. In a way it reminds me a little of Zeppelin’s “Physical Graffiti”, a similar sense of messing about with form, but while that has many great moments this is – all told – more fun and more consistently listenable given its length (and speaking of the 70s, Ginger Baker assisted on Everybody’s Going to Make it This Time’) .

So. What more can I add that hasn’t been written already about Funkadelic, or this album in particular?

Next to nothing, and therefore I’ll hand over to Robert Christgau’s take on it, from 1972.

America Eats Its Young [Westbound, 1972]
Their racial hostility is much preferable to the brotherhood bromides of that other Detroit label, but their taste in white people is suspect: it’s one thing to put down those who “picket this and protest that” from their “semi-first-class seat,” another to let the Process Church of the Final Judgment provide liner notes on two successive albums. I overlooked it on Maggot Brain because the music was so difficult to resist, but here the strings (told you about their taste in white people), long-windedness (another double-LP that should be a single), and programmatic lyrics (“Miss Lucifer’s Love” inspires me to mention that while satanism is a great antinomian metaphor it often leads to murder, rape, etc.) leave me free to exercise my prejudices. Primary exception: “Biological Speculation,” a cautionary parable about the laws of nature/the jungle. Secondary exception: “Loose Booty.” Remember what Hank Ballard says, you guys: how you gonna get respect if you haven’t cut your process yet? C+

I think that’s a little harsh, I’d up that by one grade, probably two actually.

Still great, 40 years later.

Let’s start as we mean to go on.

You hit the nail on the head…

Loose Booty

Everybody’s Going to Make it This Time

If You Don’t Like the Effects, Don’t Produce the Cause

We Hurt Too

Philmore – with an introductory baseline that is none more 1972/3…

Wake Up

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