Monday, October 25, 2010

"One Nation Under a Groove" (1978)

49. Funkadelic, "One Nation Under a Groove" (Nov. 4, 1978, #28)

Damn, I was tickled to find this in my Billboard book. I didn't know it had been released as a single, let alone became a top 30 hit. I knew it rather as the best song on the album that bears the same name (that's the cover up top), a track that lasts 7:29 and could go seven times that if I had my druthers. I don't actually know what time the single came in at but it had to be less. Truth to tell, the melody here is a little slip of a thing, though elongated and with many permutations, working with the pledge of allegiance and the swearing-in oath and the hide-and-seek call and "feet, don't fail me now!" and "can I get it on the good foot?" enough to get inside your head, and throb there—which is all that George Clinton and his players ever need anyway. I like the way that Clinton's various projects often sound so laidback on the attack, hypnotizing you like a slow-tempo'd bunch of loose-wristed ol' hippies woodshedding. Then you start to notice how insistent and sinuous the rhythms are, and how wild-assed the variety of elements, the whistles, congas, fretless bass, the chick singers doing yeoman's work on the chorus, the unfolding song and all its levels as one curtain opens on another, a series of song fragments like recurring movie wipes, building to ... play all night, man. The thing is riding on a real big engine.

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