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Houston gets funked on Halloween night of 1976.

Music DVD Review: Parliament Funkadelic – The Mothership Connection Live 1976

I’m not sure how an aging, balding, Beach Boys fan like me ended up reviewing a Parliament Funkadelic DVD but somehow it magically appeared in my mail box. So here I am, transported to Halloween eve of 1976, watching the mother ship land in Houston, Texas.

George Clinton began his musical odyssey as a member of the Parliaments who were basically a cross between a barbershop quartet and a doo-wop group. The popularity of Sly Stone and Jimi Hendrix plus the rise of psychedelic music in The United States inspired Clinton to help establish and popularize a hybrid musical form known as funk.

By the mid 1970’s he was a star due to such popular albums as Mothership Connection and The Clones Of Dr. Funkenstein. Halloween night of 1976 found Parliament Funkadelic at the height of their powers as they brought their form of interplanetary funk to the Summit in Houston, Texas.

The tour would feature such outlandish costumes as fur coats, big (and I mean gigantic) hats, musicians in diapers, and all sorts of costumes. Through it all, however, they produced some of the best jazz and blues of the 70s and infused it with a James Brown rhythm and blues sound. There are scintillating rock riffs, a pulsating bass, and brass playing over the top of it all. It all seemed to work and so we have a funk sound.

The DVD form is a good introduction to Parliament Funkadelic. In many ways it is just as important that they be seen as heard.

The concert is controlled chaos as Clinton acts as the ring master for the musical circus that is performing around him. The performance is fairly short at around 85 minutes and there are no extras. The sound, however, is excellent especially for 1976. The camera work tends to be a little too tight at times as the whole band is rarely shown. Still, it has a strong visual appeal plus the music is terrific.

The fourteen songs tend to flow into one another as wave after musical wave washes over the audience. “Dr. Funkenstein,” “Give Up The Funk,” “Night Of The Thumpasorus Peoples,” and “Cosmic Slop” revs up the energy with raw power. The finale finds Clinton inviting opening acts, The Sly Stone Band and Bootsy Collins on stage for a rousing finish.

And yes the mothership does land and I don’t mean metaphorically. Great special effects included a spaceship descending from the ceiling and of course it is George Clinton who steps out of the smoke.

Parliament Funkadelic was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1997. The Mothership Has Landed Live 1976 is an excellent chronicle of a creative group live in concert. Prepare to be funked!

About David Bowling

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