To a certain degree, you can say that Funkadelic's By Way of the Drum is a kin to Prince's The Black Album -- it's a completed album that was shelved, and it seemed like it would never see the light of day. The story goes something like this: in the mid-'80s, Funkadelic completed the album for MCA Records, who then rejected the release, before (supposedly) misplacing the master tapes. Almost two decades later, the tapes were found, and By Way of the Drum finally saw its belated release in 2007. Those expecting another classic like Maggot Brain or Standing on the Verge of Getting It On will be disappointed, as the album reflects the clean-sounding robotic funk style that was commonplace in the '80s. And as evidenced by such tunes as "Nose Bleed" and especially the title track, the album doesn't exactly spotlight the group's strongest songwriting hour (a pointless cover of Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love" helps pad the track listing). By Way of the Drum will only be of interest for diehards interested in hearing this curious relic from the vaults. The rest of us can stick with the aforementioned classics.
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato