I hope you’re well hydrated for this trip we’re about to take, because season 2 episode 1 of Mike Judge Presents Tales from the Tour Bus begins with George Clinton! Also, for those unaware… this is a review article and therefore riddled with spoilers!
If you’re under 21 you may be thinking “who tf is George Clinton? Is he some hybrid mix of George Washington and Bill Clinton?” Well I assure you that George Clinton is more lit than any hybrid version of Bill Clinton can ever be, but George may not remember all the reasons why… Regardless, he will be a fixture in musical history.
Taking the words from Mike Judge himself, George Clinton is “a man who built a music empire on Acid!” Not only is he a legend within the Funk era, but he has also birthed many other branches and genres within music, including P-Funk and G-Funk. The influence was felt in big and in subtle ways but greatly in Hip Hop for example, Da Brat “Funkdafied“, GrandMaster Flex “Tear The Roof Off“, or just about any song from the West Coast in the 90s and early 200s: Warren G ft Nate Dogg “Nobody Does it Better“, Dr Dre ft Snoop Doggy Dogg “Nuthin But A G Thang“, and even working with Kendrick Lamar on “To Pimp A Butterfly“.
Oh but don’t think that there weren’t people who witnessed the insanity, triumphs, musical genius, and okay sometimes drugs, that was George. In episode 1 of season 2, Mike Judge narrates while we hear from Sheila Brody, Boosty Collins, Ronald Edwards, Ben Greenman, Jeanette McGruder, Billy Nelson, Tom Vickers, Frankie Kash Waddy, and George Clinton himself. These are people that either experienced much of this journey with Mr. Funk, or interviewed him and studied his life in detail. Thankfully to them we get to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of the Funk world and how it relates to George. Also, Mike Judge animates these stories and it feels as if we are living it out in real time, and besides you may rather see Mr. Funk nude animation style rather than live action style.
It is important to note that although we begin the Funk journey with George Clinton, we have to emphasize that part of George’s genius derives from Bootsy Collins. This is because Bootsy is the bridge between the talents of James Brown and George Clinton. Pretty heavy, right? Bootsy was able to make this connection by passing on the art of “The One”. I will explain in the James Brown episode review exactly why “The One” was important for James, but for George Clinton it was not just a marker but a movement. This phrase “The One” may make more sense to musicians than to us common folk, but even Mr Clinton himself needed a little tutorial. I would love to explain exactly what “The One” is, but I believe Bootsy does a better job (watch the clip). But know that once George got it…well hope on the Mothership and see.
Musical genius emerged from “The One” movement, and it was beautiful, but let us not forget that Mike Judge stated ” George Clinton built [this movement] on acid!” As told by Bootsy Collins; George liked for people to trip with him. And they did, especially Bootsy. And let Bootsy tell it (well what he remembers), the effects of the drug were quite comical. George was a little strange to say the least, and this was seen through his fashion, musical style, hairstyles, stage presence, and his crew.
He created essentially an army of Funk that consisted of characters, rubber bands, and breakout stars. Lets side step for a second and explain what we mean by characters. Reminisce a little and recall the glory days that was Soul Train, and picture the many outfits you would see on the screen or right next to you if you were lucky. Do you have the imagery? Here let me help you.
Okay, now picture George Clinton standing in front of them (yes, in the sheet) and characters like Stozo the Clown, Bootsy Collins, the Brides of Funkenstein, and more all surrounding him. Now if that confuses you believe me its okay, because it confused a lot of people. And through the confusion formed this ever growing admiration. The theatrics and stage presence that encompasses the funk genre was not lost on any of the people involved with George. It was a phenomena that is still seen in how artist design their sets for their shows now. But just know that George Clinton was the first to put a UFO aka the Mothership on stage.
See George may have been on drugs but he was a workaholic all in the same. George and his band were successfully working under two labels:Invictus Records and what started as Revilot Records, two band names: Parliament and Funkadelic, and two different musical sounds: Psychedelic rock and Funk. And wow the results were amazing. During this time there were a lot of ups and reasons to celebrate. These hits include “Up for the Down Stroke”, “Super Stupid”, “Flashlight”, “Cosmic Slop”, “(I Wanna) Testify”, “Maggot Brain”, “Mothership Connection (Starchild)”, “(Not Just) Knee Deep”, “Tear the Roof off the Sucker (Give Up the Funk)”, and One Nation Under a Groove. Honestly those are only a few, because so many more hits came from the many rubberbands and solo acts surrounding or including George Clinton.
Despite this success, there was a slight down with all of these ups. According to George, “LSD stopped being this wonderful drug” that allowed for everyone who took it to create and think so vividly. According to the Funkmaster when LSD stopped being so amazing and inspiring he turned to crack, and lets just say it wasn’t his best idea. Crack left George feeling paranoid and oftentimes irrational. The funds were getting low, and the gigs were less funky. It got so bad that he began to borrow from his artist, and even began sending people home early. Sadly the concerts began to suffer as well, and if you need a frame of reference compare the Gloryhallastoopid (Egg Tour) to the Anti-Tour. Yet, despite the crack and in lieu of the paranoia “Atomic Dog” was created. Basically the crack had pushed George so far off the edge that he became paranoid and believed his bandmates were recording without him, and was so confused by the beat that he began saying whatever came to mind.
Yeah, this is a story of a famous dogGeorge Clinton-Atomic Dog (recorded 1981; released 12.1982)
For the dog that chases its tail will be dizzy
These are clapping dogs, rhythmic dogs
Harmonic dogs, house dogs, street dogs
Dog of the world unite
Countin’ dogs, funky dogs
Nasty dogs (Dog)Atomic dog
Atomic Dog may have been the last big studio hit for George Clinton but it was not the end of the Funk movement. P-Funk still lives on and George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic are still touring. Yes!! In 2019 we can still see them perform. So keep chasing the cat, and as always Keep it Funky!