It may have been nearly ten years since George Clinton's last studio album, but that doesn't mean he wasn't busy. The multi-ring circus that is the P-Funk All Stars never stops evolving, bringing new acts into the fold while welcoming back old friends and touring, touring, touring. How Late Do U Have 2 B B 4 U R Absent? is a bit of all things P-Funk: past, present, and future. Newcomers like Kendra Foster and George's granddaughter Sativa ride alongside tracks credited to George Clinton, the P-Funk All Stars, Funkadelic, and Parliament with old friends like Bernie Worrell and Cordell "Boogie" Mosson returning on some tracks. Prince and Bobby Womack both get guest spots, and there's even an appearance by the original Parliaments! (It's actually billed to Parliament [and minus Grady Thomas], but the doo wop stylings are all Parliaments.) There's a bit of hip-hop, hard rock, doo wop, and straight-up rock & roll, and of course, lots of hard funk. "Bounce 2 This" could be an outtake off Computer Games, with Bernie's synth leading the way. Funkadelic's "Because/Last Time Zone" combines the Beatles tune with a new track that looks back to "Eulogy and Light" (which is actually quoted verbatim in "Paradigm," the Prince collaboration). "Never Ending Love" has some nice electric sitar from Blackbyrd McKnight, while "Viagra" (both credited to Funkadelic) is a hard rock guitar fest built on a wicked Lige Curry bassline. "I'll Be Missing You" has nice acoustic guitar and horns, and although George's voice has weathered a bit, the man can still sing. "Our Secret" has a nice slow groove with tons of guitars in the background: Mike Hampton, Blackbyrd, and even Eddie Hazel (courtesy of some sampling). They do an old-style soul ballad with "More Than Words Can Say" (the Otis Redding tune) and their cover of "Whole Lotta Shakin'" with Bobby Womack is straight-up vintage rock & roll with some more great guitar. Curtis Mayfield's "Gypsy Woman" is remade and stripped down, led by Eric McFadden's mandolin and Byrd's guitar. "I Can Dance" is typical Clinton lunacy, featuring some funny conversation snippets over a super-funky groove. There are a couple odes to smoking: "Inhale Slow" and Sativa's "Something Stank," which rides on an old-school '70s Parliament-style groove. Perhaps the most surprising of all is the cover of "Goodnight Sweetheart." The Parliaments do it up doo-wop style, with skittering electronic beats added on top, and it works way better than it ought to. All in all, How Late Do U Have 2 B B 4 U R Absent? is somewhere between a sampler of the Clinton universe and a phone call from an old friend telling you what he's been up to. It isn't the place to start your Clinton/Parliafunkadelicment Thang collection, but it's a welcome addition after too long away.
AllMusic Review by Sean Westergaard
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2