During the late ‘60s/early ‘70s heyday of Parliament/Funkadelic, George Clinton would regularly herd a few dozen musicians into the studio without a real game plan, let the jams flow with the players in various states of alteredness, and somehow emerge with a tape full of classic grooves. This is a trick that you probably shouldn’t try at home.
Combining a house full of New Orleans players with current P-Funk members, including Clinton himself, this disc is an homage to that kind of maximalist funk. The set was largely written and recorded during an eight-day stretch, in which 35 musicians shared a house on Royal Street. There are as many as eight players and a dozen singers per track, and the sound (save for an album-closing remix) is strictly live-band organic—a refreshing change from most of Clinton’s latter-day output. But probably to their credit, the musicians involved didn’t try to recapture the mayhem of a vintage P-Funk session. The arrangements sound fairly well thought-out, the solo space passed around democratically. Intentionally or not, the album wound up being more about songs than about free- flowing grooves.
Not that there isn’t some solid playing here: The title track makes a worthy Dirty Dozen street-parade vehicle, with Ian Neville adding some of his trademark scratchy rhythm guitar. “Platinum” has a riff meaty enough to support seven minutes of horn and keyboard soloing, before latter-day P-Funk singer Kendra Foster takes it to cooler territory. For the most part though, the album works because the songs are worth the trouble, even when they stray far from the P-Funk model (Ralph Rodenberry’s “Wake Up” is semi-acoustic soul in the Ben Harper mold). The most old-school moment, and the disc’s best track, is “Include Me,” which sports typically anarchic guitar from P-Funk’s late master Garry Shider, and a rather kinky proposition from singer Belita Woods (“If you don’t wanna make love to me / that’s alright, just include me”). Clinton’s own contributions amount to vocal cameos throughout the album, just enough to let you know he approves.