-P-Funk Tour List-

Original P


Review 08/20/98 From: Mike Theiss

'PARLIAMENT/FUNKADELIC'  A.K.A.  ORIGINAL P                               
Live At the Showbox, Seattle, WA     August 20, 1998                      
Concert Review [from rec.music.funky]                                     

It's rare that I attend a concert with as much anticipation as I did going
into the show.   'Original P', is of course the new rejuvination of       
Parliament/Funkadelic as initiated by original members Ray Davis, Fuzzy   
Haskins, Grady Thomas and Calvin Simon.                                   

The concert was promoted and advertised under the group name              
"Parliament/Funkadelic"   (none of the ads said "Original P", though both 
names were posted on the marquis outside the club) and one particularly   
ironic ad for the club denoted that they were "The One and Only           
Parliament/Funkadelic"!!!!                                                

One could argue that using this name is misleading, as the big names      
people usually associate with the band (George Clinton, Bootsy, Bernie    
Worrell, Maceo,etc.) had no part.    On the other hand --- though the     
supporting musicians were not people that have worked with the funk mob   
proper in the past, we DO have 4 of the 5 original members of "The        
Parliaments" which is really the beginning of the P as we know it, thus in
my opinion they have as much right to use the name as anybody else does,  
seeing as how the group has divided into so many factions.                

I went to the show expecting to see people looking around "Which one is   
George Clinton?"" , ""What's Bootsy Doin?" etc.    Much to my suprise, I  
swear I didn't hear ONE audience member mention either George's or        
Bootsy's name the whole night.    And believe me, there was no reason     
to.   Original P came in and delivered the goods.    Threw down over 2    
hours of PURE P FUNK.   The show was great, everybody got their funk on   
and went home satisfied.                                                  

The band, directed by drummer Ben Powers (Responsible for some much       
sampled breaks from the "Connections and Disconnections" album) kicked off
the show with "Night of The Thumpasorus Peoples" (the whole song, just    
like on the record).                                                      

Near the end of the jam, out came the vocalists...    Ray Davis, Fuzzy    
Haskins, Grady Thomas and Calvin Simon.    Then they kicked into a hot    
version of "Standing On The Verge of Getting It On".     I could hardly   
believe my eyes seeing Fuzzy and Calvin ---- both have been for the most  
part absent from the public eye since their "Connections and              
Disconnections" release in 1981.                                          

Ray Davis' powerful baritone voice really puts some meat into any vocal   
group --- the harmonies were tight and so was the band.  The arrangement  
of "Standing..." was great too.   They used it in a medley with "Pumpin'  
It Up" (like the P-Funk All Stars) and then built up to a frenzy using the
bass/guitar vamp from Funkadelic's "Get Off Your Ass And Jam" as an       
outro.                                                                    

Without a pause, the band kept rolling, and immediately after             
"Standing..." they kicked into "Up For The Downstroke".   Ben Powers was  
truly in the pocket and laid it down on the one like the groove on the    
original Parliament album.   This was one of a few songs which suffered a 
bit from a lack of a horn section (synths used as a replacement) but      
otherwise it was tight.                                                   

Next up was "Give Up The Funk" which was also on the one.    This isn't my
favorite P-Funk song, and I think it's a bit overrated, but who can argue 
with Ray's "Tear the Roof Off The Sucker..."?                             

After this the band took their first pause and Fuzzy took the oppurtunity 
to say hello and tell everybody that it was "The Original P" we were      
watching.                                                                 

Next the band launched into an AMAZING rendition of the hit that started  
it all, the Parliaments "I Wanna Testify".  This had to be heard to       
believed.    George Clinton fans may recall that Dr. Funkenstein hasn't   
dared touch this song in his sets for decades.                            

The Original P live arrangement for this tune was incredible.   They      
basically used the "Up For the Downstroke" album version of this tune as a
backbone --- the feel was very similar.  But the vocal arrangement was    
unique and well executed.    The first part started out with all four     
Parliaments singing,  "Friends, inquisitive friends..." then the lines    
sort of split off and each of the four vocalists would sing a segment.    
It was slick as hell.   It was also modernized with a funk keyboard vamp  
and some different gospel style kicks and rhythm things that really worked
nicely.    During the  "Ooohhh,  luscious.   Sure been delicious to       
me-eee" segment the band pretty much cut out except for a kick drum on 2  
and 4 as the Parliaments sang away in fat funky harmony.  SWEET!!     Then
keyboardist Douglas Knight-Smith got a solo to show off with some nice    
energetic gospel style organ playing. This arrangement actually went on   
for over 12 minutes (though it didn't seem like it), including a long vamp
where Fuzzy took the crowd to church "Can I get a witness?", "Did you come
to get your funk on Seattle?".   He pointed to different segments of the  
crowd "Can I get a witness over here?   Can I get a witness over          
HERE!!!??"  and then he said "I think the FUNK is over here!" and pointed 
to the crowd in the front and got everyone chanting "F - U - N - K!"  Near
the end the band jumped into one of those stock hand clappin' foot        
stompin' double time gospel grooves.  Definitely among the highlights of  
the show.                                                                 

Next up was "The Goose" another highlight for me.   Like the "Up For The  
Downstroke" rendition, nice and slow.    This version was almost even     
better than that incredible version cause Calvin Simon was singing lead.  
Some may not know the voice by name, but believe me you'll remember       
Calvin's voice if you were to see him sing, and he sounded as great as    
ever last night.  "Livin' The Life"  (Parliament's "Osmium") comes to mind
as an example of Calvin's heartfelt vocals.   But what a moment to hear   
Calvin singing the leads on this song, for example:  "The Goose that laid 
the golden egg, was  a real real goose"  followed by the backgrounds of   
Fuzzy, Grady, Ray and the female vocalists "Real, real goose".    Songs   
like this really exploit the talent of this group.   And Ray,  RAY!!!!    
Damn that bottom gets me every time.                                      

Ray got the spotlight next, as he sang lead on the next number  "Cosmic   
Slop"!!!!!    Worked great that way too.   Otherwise they pretty much     
stuck to the traditional  live arrangement that                           
Parliament/Funkadelic/P-Funk has played since the mid 70's and Gene Thomas
Jr. (Grady's son) did a faithful re-creation of the guitar solo from the  
original recording.                                                       

Next up was "Atomic Dog" a song I don't know that I necessarily would have
expected them to do  (Ray is the only one in the band connected to the    
original, though he certainly made his mark on it!) but it sounded great. 
Keyboardist Douglas Knight Smith sang many of the leads in this song.     
Doug's got a great voice, sort of like a young Garry Shider.              

I can't say I'm familiar with the next song, so I assume it's from the    
forthcoming "Original P" album.   My guess at the title is "Party Down    
People".   With a hook that says "Party! Party Down People.  Everybody    
Party Down" this song was great.   I'm guessing it's new simply cause I'm 
not familiar with it, but it sounds like something Fuzzy might have put   
out on one of his solo records in the mid-late 70's, or even something    
from a Funkadelic record back around the same time.   Nice stuff.         

After this song the band took another pause and it was Calvin's turn to   
talk to the crowd.   He dedicated the next song to Eddie Hazel, Glen      
Goins, Tiki Fulwood, Tyrone Lampkin,  "and all the other sisters and      
brothers that have gone to that big funk party in the sky""  Nicely put.  
As you may have guessed, the next song was 'Maggot Brain'.     Believe me,
the band more than proved that they got their P down here.   They added a 
unique touch to the arrangement, doing it a little bit different than it  
has been traditionally.   Instead of starting off with a guitar doing the 
arpeggios at the beginning, keyboardist Peter Pisarczyk played that on his
keyboard with a piano patch.    There were no drums at the beginning, it  
was just Peter along with Baatin --- improvising some funky flute lines   
over the keyboard arpeggios.    This went on for awhile and Baatin ---    
though primarily fuctioning as a keyboard player for the night really can 
blow that thang.  After he was done with his flute solo, Baatin played a  
synth solo as well, which was also on the one.   Still, just Baatin and   
Peter, but Baatin was really tapping into the spirit of the song, playing 
what Eddie might have played had he been a keyboardist, if you will.      
Then the whole band came in and Gene Thomas Jr. ripped the original Eddie 
Hazel melodies just as good as I've heard anybody play it  (including Mike
Hampton).   One of the better live performances of the song I've heard.   

After that the band took a short intermission and left the stage for 10 to
15 minutes.                                                               

The next half of the show was a bit weird in that they mostly did later   
P-Funk material recorded long after Fuzzy, Grady and Calvin left the      
group.     Before the 4 lead vocalists came out the band performed a loose
interpretation of Funkentelechy.   This was a bit weird for me --- they   
started the arrangement off with the whole band playing the horn lines    
from this song.   So the bassist and guitarists and everything were       
vamping on the line just played by the horns in the original.             
Different, but I think I prefer the original arrangment.     However, this
was Baatin's first oppurtunity to blow his saxophone, and believe me, he  
ain't fakin' the funk!!!     I'm an alto saxophonist myself, and no easy  
critic to please, but Baatin has a sweet ass tone and a great sense for   
improvisation.   I couldn't have been more pleased without Maceo Parker   
sitting on the stage in front of me.  Baatin was so great in fact, that I 
wished that he was playing sax for most of the show, and that the band    
would recruit a few other horns, cause those synth horns just don't cut it
on songs like "Up For The Down Stroke" and "Give Up The Funk".            

After that the vocalists came out and did "(Not Just) Knee Deep".  Douglas
Knight-Smith did the Phillipe Wynne scat.   The boy can really sing and   
did a great interpretation, though he doesn't sound quite as much like    
Phillipe as Greg Thomas.   It was interesting, even if a bit weird to see 
Ray, Fuzzy, Grady and Calvin singing this tune.                           

Next was One Nation Under A Groove, once again Douglas Knight-Smith did   
many of the lead vocals.  Doug does a pretty good Junie!                  

Interestingly, they followed "One Nation Under A Groove" with a live      
interpretation of the remix of the God's Property/Kirk Franklin song      
"Stomp" (which borrows lines from "One Nation Under A Groove").     This  
was a feature for Emerald, Sonya and Jackie, the three background         
vocalists, each of whom have experience in various gospel choirs (though  
you probably wouldn't have guessed it from the outfits they were dressed  
in that night...).   This song came off well and really showed that they  
had their vocals together.  Having seven vocalists do the part of a whole 
gospel choir ain't easy, but they didn't sound the least bit empty.       

The guitarists got their turn to shine when the band busted out with Red  
Hot Mama next.  Along with Gene Thomas Jr. and Billy Mimms, Baatin once   
again demonstrated his versatility playing guitar on this song.  Each of  
them took solos at points in the song.                                    

After that Fuzzy started preaching about "Shining a light" or something   
like that, and who could have guessed.... they went into "Flash           
Light".     This is one of the few performances of the night that left a  
little to be desired.    It wasn't bad, but it wasn't too great either.   

Then they performed what I assume was an Original P original.   Something 
about "What's that shakin' behind me like that?"    Honestly, I was having
trouble understanding what they were saying here, cause the sound         
system/engineering wasn't too great throughout the night.   Everything was
pretty distorted.   This song was pretty good but had some elements that  
were a bit on the cheesy side.   Never thought I'd ever see Calvin Simon  
do a rap before!        After this song the band said good night, a few   
members gave everybody in the front row high fives and they left the      
stage.                                                                    

The crowd kept screaming and chanting though, and after a few minutes the 
band returned for an encore performance of "Mothership Connection".       
Interestingly, they stuck to the original arrangement of this song!       
That is to say, they went back in forth between the main vamp and the     
"Swing Down Sweet Chariot" section of the song, rather than just dividing 
the song into two parts and doing and once going to the "Swing Down"      
section vamping on to the end (as the song is usually done live).         
"Mothership..." was sort of a medley with "Music For Your Mother"  (both  
them "mother" songs!) as they took us back in the day with the whole      
"Whoah Hah Hey!!!" routine to rap up their set.                           

Overall I was very impressed with the show.   Not too long, not to short  
-- they played for a total of about 2 hours and 20 minutes. Fuzzy, Ray and
Calvin still got it, and I even had the oppurtunity to HEAR Grady!  Never 
heard his leads previously, but the man ain't bad at all.    The backing  
band was great too.    Drummer and musical director Ben Powers in         
particular deserves a shout out, cause he was really in the pocket,       
something that has been a weak point in the bands led by more than one of 
the other P-Funk members fronting groups these days  (hint, they both use 
the same guy!).    Ben was not too flashy, and not to sparse at the same  
time and that was refreshing, cause it's the way it should be more often, 
he really held down the groove.   Same goes for bassist Derrick Davis (son
of Ray Davis).  Derrick was in the pocket and held the bottom down much in
the same way his father does with his vocals.                             

The whole rest of the crew was great as well.   My only real complaint is 
I think they need a horn section to really represent the songs to         
perfection.  They've got Baatin who has the sax down, if they could just  
add a trumpet and trombone I think the show would really benefit.   Also, 
the second set was heavily made up of the later 70's P-Funk material which
as I mentioned, Ray was the only one that had any part in.    I'd have    
liked to hear them do more of the earlier stuff.   Tunes like "All Your   
Goodies are Gone" and "All Bet You" might have showcased the talents of   
the Original P vocalists more than say "Not Just Knee Deep" (kind of seems
like they're catering to what fans ignorant to the music and those who    
made it might expect to see).                                             

I would have been estatic to see the group perform Fuzzy Haskin's "Cookie 
Jar" too.   That and some of Fuzzy's other solo material (Which Way Do I  
Disco?) would have really put the show over the top for me.   But I won't 
talk any more about what the band could have done better, cause they're   
doing a great job, and should be commended for that.    If you're a fan of
the P Funk and you decline the oppurtunity to see this band, believe me,  
you're short changing yourself.                                           

Note that the tickets were more than $10 cheaper than they were last time 
Dr. Funkenstein brought his crew through the same venue here in Seattle,  
so I don't wanna hear anybody complaining about not getting four hours    
(which is usually too long in my opinion anyway...)                       

SET LIST:                                                                 

Intro/Night Of The Thumpasorus Peoples                                    
Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On/ Pumpin' It Up                     
Up For The Downstroke                                                     
Give Up The Funk                                                          
I Wanna Testify                                                           
The Goose                                                                 
Cosmic Slop                                                               
Atomic Dog                                                                
(Party Down People)?                                                      
Maggot Brain                                                              

(intermission)                                                            

Funkentelechy                                                             
(Not Just) Knee Deep                                                      
One Nation Under A Groove                                                 
Stomp                                                                     
Red Hot Mama                                                              
Flash Light                                                               
(What's that shakin' behind me like that)?                                
(encore)                                                                  
Mothership Connection/Music For My Mother                                 

THE BAND:                                                                 

Original P Vocalists:   Raymond Davis, Fuzzy Haskins, Grady Thomas and    
Calvin Simon.                                                             
Background vocals:  Emerald Davis, Jackie Love, Sonya Holmes              
Keyboards, guitar, saxophone, flute:   Baatin                             
Lead guitar:  Billy Mims                                                  
Lead guitar:  Gene Thomas Jr.  (son of Grady Thomas)                      
Drums and musical direction:  Ben Powers                                  
Peter Pisarczyk:  keyboards                                               
Douglas Knight-Smith:  keyboards and vocals                               
Derrick Davis -- bass (son of Ray)                                        

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by Maxim, afropow@hotmail.com