Funkadelic's self-titled 1970 debut is one of the group's best early- to mid-'70s albums. Not only is it laden with great songs -- "I'll Bet You" and "I Got a Thing..." are obvious highlights -- but it retains perhaps a greater sense of classic '60s soul and R&B than any successive George Clinton-affiliated album. Recording for the Detroit-based Westbound label, at the time Funkadelic were in the same boat as psychedelic soul groups such as the Temptations, who had just recorded their landmark Cloud Nine album across town at Motown, and other similar groups. Yet no group had managed to effectively balance big, gnarly rock guitars with crooning, heartfelt soul at this point in time quite like Funkadelic. Clinton's songs are essentially conventional soul songs in the spirit of Motown or Stax -- steady rhythms, dense arrangements, choruses of vocals -- but with a loud, overdriven, fuzzy guitar lurking high in the mix. And when Clinton's songs went into their chaotic moments of jamming, there was no mistaking the Hendrix influence. Furthermore, Clinton's half-quirky, half-trippy ad libs during "Mommy, What's a Funkadelic?" and "What Is Soul" can be mistaken for no one else -- they're pure-cut P-Funk. Successive albums portray Funkadelic drifting further toward rock, funk, and eventually disco, especially once Bernie Worrell began playing a larger role in the group. Never again would the band be this attuned to its '60s roots, making self-titled release a revealing and unique record that's certainly not short on significance, clearly marking the crossroads between '60s soul and '70s funk.
by Jason Birchmeier