Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow" by Parliament (1970)

This is perhaps the most tragic inclusion on this list. By all rights, this should be a drop-dead kick-ass song. Why? Well, let me count the ways.

Firstly, it's by George Clinton and Funkadelic, purveyor of much of the 1970s' best music. Secondly, it's got that name. George Clinton was a master at funky song titles, but never again after this did he come with a title both funky and iconic. It's the kind of Zen koan that ought to be inscribed on a tombstone somewhere.

Thirdly, En Vogue were, many years later, able to filch that song title and make a great piece of music out of it. Fourthly, the album for which this is the title track has one of the greatest, most clever and sexiest gatefold covers ever to grace and album. Lastly, critics rate it highly.

Well, scratch that last one; critics rate pretty much everything P. Funk did highly. It's neither here nor there.

I'm not baiting anyone. I really, really love George Clinton, and I went into this song with a world of high expectations.

What did I find? Um, feedback, other noises, religious gibberish... for ten long painful minutes. Normally, a long P. Funk song is cause for celebration (hello "Knee Deep"). But in the case of this particular bad trip, length is just another dimension of hell (kind of like the movie "Titanic"). Ten minutes is even more painful because it allows you to suffer through two, three, four, five minutes of the song figuring it's a kind of whacked-out 'introduction'... Nope. That's the song itself. It never does get better; the funk never does kick in. Just more religious hoo-hah.

So eternally disappointing.

Still, it's a hell of a great name.

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