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17 Sep 2016

Parliament “Osmium” 1970 US Acid Psych Funk debut great album


















Parliament  “Osmium” 1970 US Acid Psych Funk debut great album recommended..!
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The first Parliament album as such was a mixed-up mess of an affair – but would anyone expect anything less? The overall sound is much more Funkadelic than later Parliament, if with a somewhat more accessible feel. Things get going with an appropriately leering start, thanks to “I Call My Baby Pussycat,” which makes something like “What’s New, Pussycat?” seem like innocent, chaste conversation. After a stripped-down start, things explode into a full-on funk strut with heavy-duty guitar and slamming drums setting the way, while the singers sound like they’re tripping without losing the soul – sudden music dropouts, vocal cut-ins, volume level tweaks, and more add to the off-kilter feeling. Osmium’s sound progresses from there – it’s funk’s fire combined with a studio freedom that feels like a blueprint for the future. Bernie Worrell’s keyboard abilities are already clear, whether he’s trying for hotel lounge jams or full freakiness; similarly, Eddie Hazel is clearly finding his own epic stoned zone to peel out some amazing solos at the drop of a hat. As for the subject matter and end results – who else but this crew could have come up with the trash-talking, yodeling twang of “Little Ole Country Boy” in 1970 and still made it funky with all the steel guitar? Other fun times include the piano and vocal-into-full-band goofy romantic romp of “My Automobile” and “Funky Woman,” where over a heavy groove (and goofy Worrell break) the titular character lives with the consequence of her stank: “She hung them in the air/The air said this ain’t fair!” Amidst all the nuttiness, there are some perhaps surprising depths – consider “Oh Lord, Why Lord/Prayer,” which might almost be too pretty for its own good (Worrell’s harpsichord almost verges on the sickly sweet) but still has some lovely gospel choir singing and heartfelt lyrics…..by allmusic….. 
Before they were taking flight onboard the Mothership, Parliament began its trip in a New Jersey barbershop. In the mid-’50s, George Clinton was a hair stylist at Newark’s Uptown Tonsorial Parlor. Located in a predominantly black neighborhood, the shop was the hangout for the young and old. The North Carolina-bred Clinton became well-known for his hair-styling abilities (no surprise there), but also for his musical talents. Along with a few friends and co-workers, Clinton would regularly belt out doo-wop tunes for the delight of the costumers. At first, it was just a fun hobby, but the boys soon found themselves harmonizing in the back room, long after the shop had closed. Clinton soon left the Uptown to start work at Silk Palace, another barbershop in the nearby town of Plainfield, where he recruited a few local singers for his burgeoning group. It was here where the boys focused their musical ambition, and taking the name of their favorite brand of cigarettes, the Parliaments were born.

Beginning in ’58, the group recorded a few singles under various record labels but all struggled to find success. 1965’s “Heart Trouble” single for Golden World Records met the same fate, though it was the first to feature the Parliaments’ classic lineup of Clinton, Grady Thomas, Ray Davis, Calvin Simon and Fuzzy Haskins; this formation would remain for years to come. After producing a bunch of local groups for different labels including Revilot Records, with whom the Parliaments were soon signed, Clinton got a job as a songwriter/producer for Jobete Music, the publishing company of Motown Records. On his weekends off from the barbershop, which he now owned, he would make the trek from Jersey to Detroit to produce recording sessions. On one such trip in ’67, Clinton recorded a song he had co-written, “(I Wanna) Testify,” though as the rest of The Parliaments were unable to attend, the track was filled out by various session musicians and vocal group the Andantes. Released as the Parliaments for Revilot that summer, “(I Wanna) Testify” became the group’s first hit song.Reaching as high as number three on the Billboard R&B chart, the song was the group’s ticket to freedom. All the members quit their jobs, including Clinton, who soon sold the Silk Palace. Though they were without a backing band, save for guitarist Billy Nelson, the Parliaments threw one together and went out touring the country. Over the next few months, various members would come and go, including drummer Tiki Fulwood, who would remain for a few years. Soon, Nelson switched to bass, replaced with his childhood friend (and future guitar god) Eddie Hazel. The Parliaments now had a steady, and fantastic, musical backbone.

This is where the story gets confusing. After recording six singles for Revilot Records, Clinton and the label had a disagreement over money, and even though the Parliaments were still under contract, the band refused to record for them. Around this time, Revilot filed for bankruptcy, presenting the group with a whole bunch of legal problems. Since the band could not bill itself as the Parliaments, Clinton and Co. decided to name the group’s backing band Funkadelic, which they would then sign to another record label, even though the music would still feature the same five singers. A holding company, dubbed Parliafunkadelicment Thang Inc., was formed, and split among the original members.

It was now 1968, and to quote Principal Seymour Skinner, “The times they are a-becoming quite different.” The culture was changing and the drug era was in full-swing, making the soul and doo-wop of the Parliaments seem old-fashioned. As Clinton explained, “We couldn’t keep our ties alike. Couldn’t keep the suits clean. Hair was always undone. You realize the reality of that was really silly, especially when the hippies had just hit the scene and it was hip to be—you know, funky looking.” The group, now based in Detroit, started experimenting heavily with LSD, among other drugs. And if that wasn’t enough mind-fuckery, they were regularly sharing bills with The Stooges and MC5.
Over the next few years, Clinton and Funkadelic would transform into one of the most innovative, electrifying and downright monstrous bands to ever roam the Earth. With the addition of rhythm guitarist Tawl Ross and keyboardist Bernie Worrell, the band signed to the newly formed Westbound Records in 1970, releasing two albums that year. On these records, they combined the black-pride funk of James Brown, the feedback filled jams of Hendrix and the free-jazz intensity of Sun Ra.

But what became of the Parliaments? In late 1970, the group won back the rights to use the name, but ready for a change, they dropped the “s” to become Parliament. Because of the group’s clever business tactics, Funkadelic had a record deal, but Parliament was a free agent. Producer Jeffrey Bowen, an old friend/co-worker of Clinton’s from his Motown days, soon got in contact, persuading the band to join the Invictus Records, created by Holland/Dozier/Holland, the team that wrote and produced 25 number-one hits for Motown. After signing, the group became friendly with English folk singer (and Jeff Bowen’s wife) Ruth Copeland. She began to collaborate with the group and decided to produce the band’s next album, with the help of her husband.
Osmium presents a different side of Parliament, with a sound unique to any of the P-Funk discography. Here, they tone down Hazel’s giant acid-drenched riffs with Funkadelic (at least somewhat), playing up the vocal stylings of the five singers, by blending in more of a gospel-influenced sound. Among the numerous spiritual themed tracks, “Livin’ The Life” features lyrics that could have come from a church hymn, but the song keeps up a tight groove for Hazel’s guitar solos.
Clinton’s North Carolina upbringing mostly likely inspired a few of the band’s lesser-known, but still essential, tracks. “Moonshine Heather” tells the tale of a war widow who is forced to sell moonshine to make ends meet for her 14 children. Why it isn’t more widely considered one of the band’s best moments is beyond me. There’s probably no better way to describe the track’s inherent coolness than this: If a ’71 Oldsmobile 98 could pick a theme song, it would probably be this.
Keeping with the car theme, “My Automobile” begins with a peculiar audio documentary in which the band actually writes the song before our very ears. Clinton shows the group his lyrics, which detail his younger self’s attempts to get lucky in his car, and with the help of Worrell’s quick improvisation skills, the group begins harmonizing like they did back in their barbershop days. The second part of the song is the actual tune, featuring a self-described “hillbilly sound” reminiscent of the Southern rock of the time, which, of course, they put their own funky spin on.
These same recording sessions also spawned Copeland’s debut album, Self Portrait, with featured Parliament as her backing band. Her influence on Osmium can’t be understated, as she penned two tracks on the album, including one of the most gorgeous moments of the band’s career, “The Silent Boatman.” An ode to Charon, the mythical ferryman of death, Copeland’s English folk blends acoustic guitars, harp and even bagpipes with the heavenly vocals of Simon and the rest of the gang.
Although reviews were positive (Billboard said it was “something different and that’s a good sign”), sales of the album and its singles were underwhelming. Some of the band would stay with Copeland to record her follow-up, and the rest went on to a very different sound with the next Funkadelic album, magnum opus Maggot Brain. A few Osmium tracks and outtakes—including “Loose Booty” and “Red Hot Mama”—would later be re-recorded with Funkadelic. (Interested parties should track down the First Thangs CD, which features all of Osmium along with a few related outtakes and b-sides.)

The Parliament name would take a break after the album’s release but would be revived a few years later for Up For The Down Stroke, leading the band to bigger success and much funkier pastures. ….by magnet…
‘Making Osmium may not have been a fully satisfying experience, but the cover photo is one of my most vivid memories. We shot it up in Toronto. I wore a sheet and nothing else, and everyone was decked out in hippie regalia. What I remember most is how much acid we were doing at the time. We were eating lots of soul food and steaks, and when you eat that kind of food and drop acid, you start tripping on the meat. You see it pulsating, like it’s still alive. That was freaky, but what was worse was how it ran hell on our stomachs. They call LSD acid because that’s exactly what it is. It blows up your digestive system and blows your ass out. We spent more time in the bathroom in those days than you could imagine, and there were hemorrhoids everywhere. And while the acid may have given us second sight and opened our inner eye, it didn’t affect our sense of smell, unfortunately. We could smell perfectly and that shit was horrible. The shoot took place in a park, in a flower garden, and it was so hot that the sweat and salt was getting in everyone’s ass. Motherfuckers were crying like babies. And there were bees in there because it was a flower garden, so if it was a movie instead of a still photo, you could see people flinching and swatting, scared as shit.’ The words of George Clinton, …
THE SCENE: According to George Clinton, the five-man ex-doo-wop group Parliament performed polite music you could play for your mother, while their five-man backing band Funkadelic was the group that would scare your mother into cardiac arrest. The fact that all ten people were in the same band was simply a matter of convenience.

In 1970, even though Funkadelic was already signed to the Detroit-based Westbound label, Clinton signed Parliament to the Detroit-based Invictus label and delivered Osmium. Parliament had released several smoothed-out hit singles in the previous years, so the raw and roughneck Osmium had the effect of discovering that your seemingly normal parents were actually two-headed Martian warlords.

Although this album preceded their use of squiggly synths, alter egos and sci-fi concepts, Parliament still had loads of goofball energy and naïve eccentricity. Half the album is co-written by folk artist and label mate Ruth Copeland, and her straightforward melodicism and religious themes make a downright bizarre platform for the funk. “Oh Lord, Why Lord/Prayer” is a harpsichord and choir-led hymn based on Pachelbel “Canon” and is performed completely straight! No joking about Jesus this time around.

“Put a Little Love In Your Life” is a mini-progressive rock opera detailing the journey of a would-be star, with enough mood changes to rival a Broadway song. Slow organ riffs merge into spazzed-out guitar solos, voices drop in and out, tempos speed up at will, and yet it holds together.

Parliament gets its Nashville on with “Little Ole Country Boy”, a hyped-up country-and-western song complete with pedal steel guitar solo, washboard percussion and lots of yodeling. Yes, yodeling. Parliament also finds a place to showcase the bagpipes, of all instruments, on the beautiful dirge “The Silent Boatman”.

Peppered between these mid-tempo quasi-show tunes are lots of crazed funk songs. “Funky Woman” is an exceptionally tough call-and-response about personal hygiene that showcases guitarist Eddie Hazel’s sizzling tone and Clinton’s grizzled humor:

She hung them in the air
Funky woman
The air said this ain’t fair
Funky woman

She hung them in the sun
Funky woman
The sun began to run
Funky woman

She threw them on the line
Funky woman
The line, it started to cryin’
Funky woman

She threw them in the yard
Funky woman
The yard, it cried, Oh Lord!

The rockabilly “My Automobile” is a cute re-enactment of the songs’ own creation, with the band sitting around the studio harmonizing top-of–their-head lyrics, followed by the “real” version of the song. Osmium also contains an early version of Funkadelics’ “I Call My Baby Pussycat”, a naughty crunch rocker about, er, cats:

Now I’m a tom cat and you’re the pussycat
And I’m just sittin’ here, licking my paw
Now I’m the tom cat and you’re my little old pussycat
Why don’t you scratch me on my back with your claw?

I don’t know, but I’ve been told
That dogs are man’s best friend
Wild and warm is my baby’s love
My kitten is where it’s at

The album has a low-budget and fun country charm with a surprising amount of restraint, considering the source. Neither Parliament nor Funkadelic were ever this peculiar again.

THE FALLOUT: Even the band didn’t think an album this eclectic would sell many copies, and they were right. It did OK in Detroit but that was it. Parliament lost their recording deal but they were picked up by Casablanca in 1974 and released Up For the Down Stroke, which began a long string of bagpipe-free and high-selling albums. …by uppity music…….
Tracklist
I Call My Baby Pussycat 3:50
Put Love In Your Life 5:05
Little Ole Country Boy 3:57
Moonshine Heather 4:04
Oh Lord, Why Lord / Prayer 4:59
My Automobile 4:43
Nothing Before Me But Thang 3:55
Funky Woman 2:54
Livin’ The Life 6:15
The Silent Boatman 5:50 

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