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10 Sep 2016

Funkadelic “One Nation Under a Groove” 1978 US Funk Soul













Funkadelic “ One Nation Under a Groove” 1978 US Funk Soul 500 greatest albums of all time by Rolling Stone magazine...
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This album is incredible, truly one of the greatest records in pop music history. To put it simply, it is an album that defines a genre. Of course there are older funk albums which laid out the groundwork, but ONE NATION was a recording that combined the various elements that Funk music had incorporated over the years and crammed it all into one amazing album. 

The chaotic groove of the bass guitar, the electric screech of the electric, the satirical and over the top lyrics and vocals, the use of synthesizers and Indulgent keyboard technology; these were all elements that the P-Funk music collaborative, led by George Clinton, had been developing in their music for years. This album has it all. The first track, is in my opinion, P-Funk’s pinnacle song. But every cut is a frigging gem. 

I’m not going to go on too much about how amazing this album is. The point is, if you consider yourself an expert of popular music, then this album is a staple of any collection. Buy it, download it, pirate it, whatever, just please- have this album available to listen to at all times! I guarantee, like any great funk music, it will always put you in a good mood….. 

- Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Jach, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, 2005. ....

One Nation Under a Groove was not only Funkadelic’s greatest moment, it was their most popular album, bringing them an unprecedented commercial breakthrough by going platinum and spawning a number one R&B smash in the title track. It was a landmark LP for the so-called “black rock” movement, best-typified in the statement of purpose “Who Says a Funk Band Can’t Play Rock?!”; more than that, though, the whole album is full of fuzzed-out, Hendrix-style guitar licks, even when the music is clearly meant for the dancefloor. This may not have been a new concept for Funkadelic, but it’s executed here with the greatest clarity and accessibility in their catalog. Furthermore, out of George Clinton’s many conceptual albums (serious and otherwise), One Nation Under a Groove is the pinnacle of his political consciousness. It’s unified by a refusal to acknowledge boundaries – social, sexual, or musical – and, by extension, the uptight society that created them. The tone is positive, not militant – this funk is about community, freedom, and independence, and you can hear it in every cut (even the bizarre, outrageously scatological “P.E. Squad”). The title cut is one of funk’s greatest anthems, and “Groovallegiance” and the terrific “Cholly” both dovetail nicely with its concerns. The aforementioned “Who Says a Funk Band Can’t Play Rock?!” is a seamless hybrid that perfectly encapsulates the band’s musical agenda, while “Into You” is one of their few truly successful slow numbers. The original LP included a three-song bonus EP featuring the heavy riff rock of “Lunchmeataphobia,” an unnecessary instrumental version of “P.E. Squad,” and a live “Maggot Brain”; these tracks were appended to the CD reissue. In any form, One Nation Under a Groove is the best realization of Funkadelic’s ambitions, and one of the best funk albums ever released….by allmusic….. 

Funkadelic’s 10th album and their commercial breakthrough, One Nation Under a Groove was the starting point for many British listeners. 
An underground delicacy stateside since 1970, the group had yet to enjoy much popularity in the UK. But by 78, the Funkadelic part of leader George Clinton’s P-Funk mothership had travelled from being an acid-drenched funk-rock ensemble to something resembling Parliament, their hit-generating sister band. 
One Nation Under a Groove immediately welcomed new listeners inside Clinton’s parallel universe, with all of his ideas, mythology and strangely monikered players. For example, Bootsy Collins is one of the ‘Bass Thumpasaurians’ on the album, and Bernie ‘DaVinci’ Worrell and Walter ‘Junie’ Morrison were ‘Keybo’ Dans & Synthezoidees’. 
When Clinton conceived the album’s title track – from a girlfriend’s comment when he was making a film outside the United Nations – it gave the whole P-Funk enterprise one of their biggest hits and an overall mission statement for Clinton’s wild vision. 
The track is arguably Clinton’s greatest popular moment: supple, lithe and funky, it evoked soul past and present and had a chorus to die for. With its blend of Funkadelic Blamgusta Vocaloids (Voices For Da Nation!) – Clinton, Morrison and Garry Shider – the single was number one on the US R&B chart for six weeks. 
The track also reached a respectable nine in Britain, too. It was to be P-Funk’s only foray into the UK charts, although Clinton was later to enjoy some solo success. One Nation… was (is!) rich on stomping, repetitive grooves, Who Says a Funk Band Can’t Play Rock doing exactly what its title suggests. 
The album initially came with a free single that showed that the band hadn’t lost sight of their original far-out remit. It featured a live version of their 1971 standard Maggot Brain, featuring Mike ‘Kidd Funkadelic’ Hampton’s searing guitar work, playing former member Eddie Hazel’s solo perfectly. 
One Nation Under a Groove as a whole may not represent P-Funk’s greatest work, but it is certainly very memorable, and acts as a perfect introduction to George Clinton’s freaky, funk-drenched alternative reality…….BBC review……. 

1978 saw the birth of a brand new nation on these shores – a nation of freedom and brotherhood that extolled the virtues of love, sex and the power of open minds and shaking hips. One nation. One nation indivisible. One Nation Under a Groove. 

George Clinton and Funkadelic had thrown down the gauntlet with the release of Let’s Take It To the Stage in 1975. This masterpiece of weird, funky guitar madness set the philosophical stage for a war that was to come. A war based on the timeless politics of youth and fought by their alter egos in Parliament. In 1976 Parliament invaded America as “extra-terrestrial brothers, dealers in funky music” when the Masters of Form landed the Mothership Connection. It was the first in a trilogy of albums that included The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein and 1977’s Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome. 

For two years they appealed to the natural politics inherent in youth culture. There is a young, new, vital open-minded “us” overcome with the desire to have fun – in the case of Parliament this was achieved by the embracing of “P-Funk, uncut funk, the bomb”. The “us” is always at odds with a perceived and established “them” that want to maintain the status quo and keep “us” from being truly free. “They” employ the Placebo Syndrome; shiny, false entertainments designed to take our minds off of our troubles, distracting us from what is truly important and tricking us into believing that we are free already. 

By 1978 the war was over. Parliament had fought for a new musical world order and, with the release of One Nation Under a Groove, Funkadelic stepped in to throw an inauguration. The album, easily Funkadelic’s most accessible effort as well as its greatest musical statement, is a celebration of the new America, complete with a new Pledge of Allegiance and a new National Anthem. 

One Nation Under a Groove is the final delivery on the promises of inclusion that Parliament-Funkadelic had always given. It was a declaration that the war Parliament had fought for two years had been worth it; a declaration that the war was over and that everybody had won. The new America of One Nation Under a Groove was a nation finally without a “them”. Anybody who wanted to could be one of “us”. 

One Nation Under a Groove is a funky masterpiece of free thought and inclusion intent on bringing listeners, as “Promentalshitbackwashpsycosisenemasquad (Doo Doo Chasers” crassly puts it, “music to get your shit together by”. The track is a great example of Clinton’s often crude sense of humor and it would be easy to overlook were it not for the relentlessly slow guitar groove that seems to roll and unroll like the string of the world’s slowest, most hypnotic yoyo. Once hypnotized, the politics begin to shine through the toilet humor and a song about the “low calorie logic” of “social bullshit” emerges. “Into You” outlines the simplicity of One Nation Under a Groove’s all inclusive party. There’s the deep rolling of Bootsy Collins’ bass line, the jazz-funk fusion of Michael Hampton’s guitar and the simple declaration that Funkadelic is, “Into you, my people”. 


Fusion plays a significant roll in “Cholly (Funk Gettin’ Ready To Roll) a song which speaks directly of the Mothership Connection saga in telling the story of a man who loves jazz and classical music but leaves the “syndrome” behind to embrace the additional freedom of funk. The track is pure Funkadelic though, not pure funk. Bootsy is a monster throughout, laying down one of his best bass performances ever but the Gary Shider vocals are soulful pop and the guitar, particularly at the song’s conclusion, is heavy and metallic. The song refuses to settle into an easy label. “Who Says a Funk Band Can’t Play Rock?” is a song about such labels. The lyrics insist that Funkadelic is a band that plays whatever style of music they choose to—jazz, dance, funk or rock, and they hold up Michael Hampton’s incendiary guitar work as proof that they actually can. It’s a guitar workout that is well out of the norm for black bands of the time. Of course Funkadelic wasn’t a band of the time they were a band of all time and their music was an extension of the freedom they felt everybody should share in. 

This is evidenced by the Pledge of Allegiance they composed for their new nation. “Pledge a groovallegiance to the funk, the United Funk of Funkidelica,” is another simple declaration of the freedom inherent in funk music and “Groovallegiance” is another combination of styles. The funk of the bass forms a perfect union with the reggae-inflected guitar and island rhythm of the percussion to yield a song that smells of coconut and sea air. The island is all but abandoned to the jazz of the guitar solo before being restored by keyboards that shine with enough simple sun for a listener to get a tan. 


Finally of course is the title track, one of the greatest funk songs ever composed and Funkadelic’s own Star Spangled Banner. “One Nation Under a Groove” perfectly encapsulates Parliament-Funkadelic’s philosophy of moving towards freedom through the freedom of movement. “Here’s a chance to dance our way out of our constrictions,” Clinton sings over a track that is so funky that the sweat of the dance floor can be smelled through the speakers. Like the album that follows it, the track is all-inclusive. “With the groove our only guide we shall all be moved.” “We”; all of us will be, because in this new nation “them” are the few that insist on staying in “hang up alleyway” while the rest of us are busy “getting down just for the funk of it.” One Nation Under a Groove is a ridiculously empowering good time, a reminder that “funk”, as Clinton promised at the beginning of The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein, “is its own reward.” …..by pop matters…… 

There’s a reason sometimes taking a break and not continually releasing albums is a good idea. A couple years before this both Funkadelic and Parliament were on a tear of releasing multiple albums every year. Besides the tiresome effects of that, the quality, at least for Funkadelic as the focus started to shift to Parliament, went down. So taking a two year hiatus was an excellent idea, and the final project was worthy of the decision. It’s not my favorite Funkadelic album, but it’s certainly amongst the top tier. For years prior, especially with Parliament, the group were making subtle moves to getting into Dance, with more groovable rhythms and entrancing beats. With One Nation Under a Groove they finally broke through, marring Funk and Dance to create a piece that finally saw their previous efforts realized. 

Many only talk about the title track, and with reason. It’s the most memorable from this piece, and probably the best at the end of the day, simply for the fact of what it does. With a continuous beat playing throughout as sound effects pop in and out of existence, George Clinton leads the charge with the three F’s; flair, flavor, and fervor. Lots argue that this song essentially started Hip-Hop. And while I don’t see that, at least in terms of a full-proof answer, I see where the thought comes from. Really a greater sentiment to the origins of Hip-Hop is Funkadelic as a whole, being one of the most sampled artists of all-time, especially in the pre-Golden era of Hip-Hop. 

Then there’s ‘Groovallegiance,’ which borders on an upbeat Reggae anthem. It seems as if, for the first time ever, Funkadelic decided to take in influences rather than further curate their own sound. The late 70’s saw a rise of Bob Marley and Dance records, so why not make the first two songs on your record the best of both those worlds? Throw a self-aware Rock song after that, one in which they directly acknowledge the frivolous nature of genres in 'Who Says A Funk Band Can’t Play Rock?’ and a quintessential 10 minute boogaloo akin to 'Wars Of Armageddon’ on 'Promentalshitbackwashpsychosis Enema Squad’ after that and you’re set for Funkadelic’s most varied and inspired record in years. 

Two more Funk tracks close things out, with 'Into You’ being a rousing success, especially in regards to its slow but steady build, before the album ends too soon while it whizzed on by. There’s so much to pick out here without a concrete sound like the previous two releases (Tales of Kidd Funkadelic and Hardcore Jollies), like a swan song defiling those who felt they were on a downfall. Unfortunately after this, as the decade came to a close, Funkadelic pretty much evaporated out of thin air, but what a way to go out. ….. 

George Clinton, the mastermind behind Parliament/Funkadelic and its splinter groups, comes up with another conceptualized LP based on funk, or what Clinton calls “a state of mind.” The title cut, which already looms as a major crossover hit, is a funk anthem that sets the stage for the unfolding of the funk tale. The music is churning rhythms, delivered in a semifrantic way while the slower ballad-type material changes the pace. The package also includes a 45 EP containing a live version of “Maggot Brain.” Clinton’s imagination, audible on vinyl, becomes quite visual on the spaced-out album jacket concept. Best cuts: “One Nation Under A Groove,” “Maggot Brain,” “Promentalshitbackwashpsychosis Enema Squad (The Doodoo Chasers),” “Groovallegiance.” 

- Billboard, 1978. 

I can’t figure out why some Funkateers profess themselves unmoved by this one. The twelve-incher does come up a little short on guitar, but a generous Hendrix fix is thoughtfully provided on the seventeen minute, seven-inch third side, and the title cut is as tough and intricate as goodfooting ever gets. Plus: “Who Says a Funk Band Can’t Play Rock?” and “Into You,” two manifestos that bite close to the bone, and “The Doo Doo Chasers,” a scatalogical call-and-response cum responsive-reading whose shameless obviousness doesn’t detract from fun or funk. Fried ice cream is a reality! Or: Think! It ain’t illegal yet! 
- Robert Christgau, Christgau’s Record Guide, 1981. 

The title cut is George Clinton’s supreme goodfoot manifesto, and for the first time in his career he pulls off a start-to-finish masterstroke. * * * * * 

- John Floyd, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995. 

Funkadelic gets on the good foot with One Nation Under a Groove. If you didn’t like this record, you weren’t dancing when you heard it. * * * * * 

- Lawrence Gabriel, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996. 

Bassist George Clinton had started off performing doo wop with his Parliaments before moving into soul-rock fusions with the singular Parliament, who then evolved into a pioneering funk outfit at the end of the 60s. By the mid-70s, with an outlandish stage act and even stranger albums – Free Your Ass And Your Mind Will Follow was typical – Clinton had become the clown prince of funk. Mothership Connection, in 1976, had crystallized Clinton’s formula and One Nation… took it several stages further – the gross humour and the ridiculous titles were still in there, but they were now held in check by some appealing musical touches wrapped around irresistible rhythms. The track itself – a massive hit across the world’s dancefloors – combined, over its seven and half minutes, a light, almost skipping tempo with a rattling, kicking beat and some seriously fat bass-playing while Clinton himself gives a breathily soulful rendition of his manifesto. This philosophy included the breaking of musical barriers on the tense “Who Says A Funk Band Can’t Play Rock?” But dance music remains Clinton’s specialty. 

- Collins Gem Classic Albums, 1999. 

When “One Nation” came out, Parliament Funkadelic ringleader George Clinton compared his music with mainstream black pop: “James Brown, Jimi, Sly and ourselves took the whole other thing so far anyway that most of 'em ain’t nowhere near catching up yet.” But the public made One Nation Funkadelic’s first million-seller, fueled by the touching sentiments of “Maggot Brain” and “P.E. Squad/Doo Doo Chasers.” Clinton’s vast funk empire then numbered about fifty-five members; he constantly switched lineups and labels. “I have to play with it,” Clinton said. “It’s too intense otherwise.” 

One Nation Under a Groove was chosen as the 177th greatest album of all time by the editors of Rolling Stone magazine in Dec. 2003. 

- Rolling Stone, 12/11/03. 

Tracks 
A1 One Nation Under a Groove 7:33 
A2 Groovallegiance 7:00 
A3 Who Says a Funk Band Can’t Play Rock?! 6:21 
A4Promentalshitbackwashpsychosis Enema Squad (The Doo Doo Chasers) 11:00 
A5 Into You 5:43 
B1 Cholly (Funk Getting Ready to Roll!) 4:33 
B2 Lunchmeataphobia (Think! It Ain’t Illegal Yet!) 4:16 
B3 P.E. Squad / Doo Doo Chasers 4:40 
B4 Maggot Brain 7:37 

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