Funkadelic, Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On (1974)

Funkadelic, Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On (1974)

Guitarist Eddie Hazel was one of the most characteristic driving forces behind all of P-Funk, especially in the early years — but he was mostly absent from the band in ’72 and ’73 due to financial disputes. One way to resolve disputes like that is to give an artist more of a say in the songwriting process, and that’s what Hazel got for Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On, the album that most strongly solidified Funkadelic as a band that could hit every angle of both styles their portmanteau name implied. Under cover of the credit “Grace Cook” — which helped Hazel duck contractual rights problems and got his mother a nice little tribute in the process — he and Clinton built the foundation for a classic that bursts forth like a bolt of broadsword-wielding freak metal, a million-millimeter shell fired across Led Zeppelin’s bow.

Give Parliament some of the credit for that; with the crew’s funkier aspirations channeled (quite successfully) into Up For The Down Stroke, the near-concurrently-recorded Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On was where all the Heavy Shit went. Even the proto-disco groove of the barn-burner title cut steps high in spiked iron platforms; you could pair it with Zep’s funk stab “Trampled Under Foot” and make the latter seem like coffeehouse music. (It helps when you have the best call-and-response ever.) Elsewhere you’ve got the jawbreaker opening pair of “Red Hot Mama” and “Alice In My Fantasies,” two dysfunctional love songs which escalate a portrait of country-girl-meets-city-hedonism all the way to a series of bizarre kink negotiations (“I said ‘uh, lady, be my dog and I’ll be your tree/ And you can pee on me”). And the boogie-woogie put-on “Jimmy’s Got A Little Bitch In Him” outflanks Frank Zappa on both the gay solidarity and pop-art-doo-wop-scuz-rock fronts (“Why frown? Even the sun go down”). That makes the album’s two great elegiac guitar workout dirges — the abandoned-lover lament “I’ll Stay” and the ether-frolic sermon of “Good Thoughts, Bad Thoughts” — all the more striking, especially in how they ground the heaviness in the humane.

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