Funk fans take note: Shout Factory has reissued a funk blast courtesy of George Clinton's P-Funk mob. The Mothership Connection Live 1976 delivers 80 minutes of irresistible grooves and outlandish costumes. It's a great opportunity to witness Parliament Funkadelic in all their mid-'70s glory. One great jam after another is cranked out by the large collective of musicians, creating a free-flowing funk stew that Clinton simmers to perfection. By the time they kick into their best known hit, "Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Of The Sucker)," I think anyone would be hard pressed to sit still.
This particular concert was taped on Halloween night, 1976, at the Houston Summit. Keep in mind this was long before high-definition digital video. The camera work is downright primitive by today's standards. In fact, some songs begin with a minute or so of total darkness before enough light is available for the performers to be seen. The cameras, however immobile, do focus on the stage throughout. There isn't a single audience shot during the entire program. While I appreciate this type of basic presentation, it should be noted that some of the musicians are never even shown. We don't see Cordell "Boogie" Mosson on bass, nor drummer Jerome Brailey. But don't let that be too much of a deterrent, the video footage is highly watchable and the audio packs a decent punch considering its age.
By 1976, Parliament Funkadelic was nearing its peak in popularity. While the watered-down funk offshoot known as disco continued to gain momentum, Clinton and his ensemble continued to keep the funk pure and raw. So many fantastic musicians contributed, including former James Brown alumni Fred Wesley (trombone) and Maceo Parker (alto saxophone). Parker, arguably the funkiest sax player in history, is spotlighted nicely several times. Rhythm guitarist Garry Shider is excellent, also adding dynamite vocals to the mix. Shider makes quite a visual impression as well. Dressed in little more than a diaper, he sucks on a pacifier when not singing.