FSQ stands for Funk Style Quality. The outfit`s 2020 album Reprise Tonight was over 10 years in the making, and deeply rooted in the world of P-Funk. Founder member Sa’D “The Hourchild” Ali (RIP) was George Clinton’s nephew, and, in the early 1990s, a member of the reformed Parliament and Funkadelic. He also happened to be Fingers Inc.`s manager. Both Ali and fellow FSQ founder, Chuck “Da Fonk” Fishman were part of The C Kunspyruhzy, alongside Clinton`s daughter, Barbarella Bishop. The set itself features guest slots from George, his son TreyLewd, Funkadelic`s Billy Bass Nelson, and the one and only Bootsy Collins.
The record has now been remixed – as Reprise Reprise Tonight – with a huge roll call of familiar and famous names – from DJ Rocca, to Dr Rubberfunk, Michael The Lion, and the legendary Tom Moulton (!!!). For those of a Balearic bent though, the real standout is Ray Mang`s cracking conga`d, bongo cosmic dub of the album’s title track. Chunky and chugging it totally recalls Clinton`s collaborations with Primal Scream. Imagine Denise Johnson strutting her stuff, adding her seismic vocals, to Patrick Adams / Cloud One`s Patty Duke.
To further cement those mothership connections, The Insider asked Chuck, to hit his collection and share with us a few lesser known P-Funk essentials.
Words and selections by Chuck “Da Fonk” Fishman. Quizzing conducted by our favourite four-to-the-floor expert, The Insider.
The giant George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic P-Funk empire has more than its fair share of rarities. The group’s releases span from 1959 to the present day, so there are lots of eras to focus in on. There are certainly some great and lesser-known P-Funk cuts from the mid to late 1980s when Clinton and the crew of over 100 band members rose from the ashes of the implosion of the two main P-Funk groups, Parliament and Funkadelic, both of which ceased operations in 1981. The following year George was given a solo record deal by Capitol Records. Once he established himself at Capitol – with the unexpected 1982 hit Atomic Dog – the label allowed him to sign some more of the band members, and experiment with new band names, like “Incorporated Thang Band” and “Jimmy G & The Tackheads”, though these artists are essentially just, well, “the P-Funk group”.
As he did in the 1970s, George found ways to sign the band members to multiple record deals under unique names, and soon George had another deal with MCA Records, then Warner Bros, and he even linked with Prince and signed his own Clinton name to the Purple One’s Paisley Park. Meanwhile, P-Funk lynchpin Bootsy Collins found a home at Columbia Records – under his own name, as he had lost the naming rights to “Bootsy’s Rubber Band” to a country band earlier in the decade. Bootsy also found renewed vigour during this decade and produced his own spin-off acts. Since electronic music production was big in the `80s and so was the 12” extended play format, many P-Funk releases during this time got their own dance mixes, several of which I feature here. Unfortunately, many of these P-Funk dance music treasures have been forgotten about and have not been reissued.
Xavier – Do It To The Max (Liberty / Capitol Records 1982)
Radio promotions wizard and producer Ted Currier had taken on the role of leading Black music at Capitol Records in about 1981. Since the label was lagging with artists in this department, he was given a bit more room to experiment to see what would stick. Meanwhile, no record label wanted to take a risk on George, given all the excess he`d displayed with Parliament and Funkadelic at the end of the prior decade. Yet Ted signed George and produced his first big hit back on the scene, Atomic Dog. He also employed George and Bootsy to produce a new artist, a band called Xavier from one of the most unlikely hotbeds of funk, Hartford, Connecticut. The P-Funk duo wrote and co-produced two tracks on Xavier’s debut album, Point of Pleasure, with “Do It To Max” being my favourite.
There`s a music video too!
Incorporated Thang Band – Still Tight (Unnecessary Hype Club Mix) (Warner Bros Records, 1988)
The P-Funk releases from this era leaned heavily on electronic music production and are club ready, stripped-down funk workouts. A great example of this style is Still Tight, a P-Funk tune led by George Clinton’s son TreyLewd on vocals, backed by key P-Funk member Garry Shider. The “Unnecessary Hype Club Mix” of Still Tight is on a hard to find 12”, and is not available digitally. This mix extends the original to over 7 minutes, turning up the drum machine action and splashing it with overly wet Yamaha DX7 synthesizer.
The P-Funk All-Stars – Baby Boy (Unreleased, 1988)
Not all of the 1980’s P-Funk projects made it to an official release. George, Bootsy, and the rest of the P-Funk band are featured in a 1988 movie titled “The Night Before”, starring Keanu Reeves and Lori Laughlin. The movie is about a prom date gone wrong, and the Keanu’s character and his date wind up in a sleezy night club where P-Funk are performing (billed as another group). Three P-Funk songs are heard in the movie, but the soundtrack was never officially released, much to the frustration of us P-Funk fans, because the track Baby Boy is a real stomper of funk tune, laced with a perfect James Brown styled guitar riff and George and Garry Shider’s vocals.
Bootsy Collins – A Creative Nuisance (Nobody Understands) (Party Mix) (Columbia Records, 1988)
In 1988, Bootsy Collins` first album in six years, Party on Plastic, was released, preceded by a 12” dance mix release of its title track. The B side of the 12” is titled A Creative Nuisance (Nobody Understands), and it is a 6 minute plus cosmic funk workout led by Bootsy’s outstanding chunky guitar and fierce fuzz and slap bass-lines. Bootsy’s funk is set against sparse dark new wave synth pads, dank electronic drums, turntable scratching, big handclaps, and giant timbale fills. This one is also sadly unavailable in the modern digital music world. I uploaded it to Soundcloud for your listening pleasure.
Funkadelic – By The Way Of The Drum (Dub) (MCA Records, 1989)
I bought this 12” when it came it out. It made absolutely no sense to P-Funk fans in 1989, as it`s a pure dance music record, and Funkadelic is known as being the more rock side of the P-Funk empire. Also, at the time none of us knew that there was “a forthcoming Funkadelic album” as the label on the 12” promises. That full album didn’t come out in 1989 or the year after, though many fans heard the low-quality bootlegs of it over the years, until it was finally let out of the vaults and released in 2007. This lead 12” single teased the hell out of fans, and strikingly featured a male lead singer who wasn’t from the core P-Funk group, R&B vocalist Keith Washington. I`m featuring the “Dub” version here which can work in any modern DJ set. It’s a freaky, dark, slow-burning acid track, set at 113bpm, with the some of the heaviest bass synths you’ll ever hear, precise electronic percussion, and African tribal chants.
Otis Day and The Knights – Something Dumb (House Dub) (MCA Records, 1989)
The name Parliament was not used at all past 1981, until the late 2010s. The latter part of the 80s also didn’t see a single “P-Funk All Stars” release. But P-Funk was popping up as a group under a variety of other names. To capitalize on the popularity of the college movie “Animal House” and the R&B group that is prominently featured in it, “Otis Day & The Nights”, MCA Records put out an album featuring the actor who played Otis Day in the movie, Dwayne Jesse, along with a backing band, which was in fact, P-Funk. Titled Shout, this album features several new versions of well-known P-Funk songs, and a few brand-new originals. One of these, Something Dumb, was released as a 12” single. House music was just getting hype about this time, so I’m featuring the “House Dub” of the tune, which again is out of print. This one, and Funkadelic’s By The Way Of The Drum, both get their dance music style from the LA producer, Greg Ski Royal.
George Clinton Presents Our Gang Funky (MCA Records, 1989)
A compilation album, titled George Clinton Presents Our Gang Funky, was part of a prolific year of P-Funk led releases for MCA Records. I overlooked this at the time of its release, because the artist names didn’t say P-Funk, and I was unclear what this was all about. Also, I found the tunes to be too much toward lightweight electronic R&B, but upon revisiting this woefully out-of-print compilation, I’ve really fallen for two tracks from it, including O.T.W. He Dance Funny, which is Garry Shider and TreyLewd leading a up-tempo electro workout, heavy with classic P-Funk choir vocals. I recently discovered that Garry Shider’s Beautiful from the compilation received its own 12” extended dance mix, which features a banging piano bridge and more epic synthesizer work from Bootsy protégé, Mico-Wave.
FSQ’s Reprise Reprise Tonight is out now, on Soul Clap Records.