One Nation Under a Groove
Warner Bros. 3209
Released: September 1978
Chart Peak: #16
Weeks Charted: 22
Certified Platinum: 12/19/78
There's a whole lot of something going on here, but I'm not quite certain what it is. Some segments of this album and a half (there's a seven-incher called a "Heavy Maggot Disk" tucked inside) are pretty repellent, particularly one extended track called "Promentalshitbackwashpsychosis Enema Squad (the Doo Doo Chasers)." If you care to nose up to it, be prepared for childishly dirty lyrics about "mental diarrhea," "the unflushables," "the mental musical bowel movement," and a "neurological enema." Not exactly dinner music. To compound the confusion, these phrases are chanted loudly enough to drown out some poor female singer warbling a rather appealing melody in an ultrahigh voice. You can almost but not quite hear a song that is much better than what you do hear. Tucked amidst the tomfoolery that abounds throughout are bits and pieces of better-than-average r-&-b fare, with classy blues-derived guitar work featured on both sides of the seven-incher. "One Nation Under a Groove," "Into You," and "Groovallegiance" stand out above the clutter.
If some of this sounds vaguely familiar as a recording approach, it might be because the heavy hand of William "Bootsy" Collins is involved, along with George Clinton, who produces Bootsy as well as Funkadelic. Both seem to lack all restraint in their attempts to be seen and heard, as this album's nightmare of a cover will attest. Yet they might not be too far off base in overusing the word "funk" to define their efforts. Among blacks back in the Forties and Fifties, "funk" or "funky" was used to describe something, especially a human body, that was unclean, repellently odorific, and badly in need of a bath.
- Phyl Garland, Stereo Review, 2/79.
- Billboard, 1978.
I can't figure out why some Funkateers profess themselves unmoved by this one. The twelve-incher does come up a little short on guitar, but a generous Hendrix fix is thoughtfully provided on the seventeen minute, seven-inch third side, and the title cut is as tough and intricate as goodfooting ever gets. Plus: "Who Says a Funk Band Can't Play Rock?" and "Into You," two manifestos that bite close to the bone, and "The Doo Doo Chasers," a scatalogical call-and-response cum responsive-reading whose shameless obviousness doesn't detract from fun or funk. Fried ice cream is a reality! Or: Think! It ain't illegal yet! A
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
The title cut is George Clinton's supreme goodfoot manifesto, and for the first time in his career he pulls off a start-to-finish masterstroke. * * * * *
- John Floyd, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
Funkadelic gets on the good foot with One Nation Under a Groove. If you didn't like this record, you weren't dancing when you heard it. * * * * *
- Lawrence Gabriel, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
Bassist George Clinton had started off performing doo wop with his Parliaments before moving into soul-rock fusions with the singular Parliament, who then evolved into a pioneering funk outfit at the end of the 60s. By the mid-70s, with an outlandish stage act and even stranger albums -- Free Your Ass And Your Mind Will Follow was typical -- Clinton had become the clown prince of funk. Mothership Connection, in 1976, had crystallized Clinton's formula and One Nation... took it several stages further -- the gross humour and the ridiculous titles were still in there, but they were now held in check by some appealing musical touches wrapped around irresistible rhythms. The track itself -- a massive hit across the world's dancefloors -- combined, over its seven and half minutes, a light, almost skipping tempo with a rattling, kicking beat and some seriously fat bass-playing while Clinton himself gives a breathily soulful rendition of his manifesto. This philosophy included the breaking of musical barriers on the tense "Who Says A Funk Band Can't Play Rock?" But dance music remains Clinton's specialty.
- Collins Gem Classic Albums, 1999.
When "One Nation" came out, Parliament Funkadelic ringleader George Clinton compared his music with mainstream black pop: "James Brown, Jimi, Sly and ourselves took the whole other thing so far anyway that most of 'em ain't nowhere near catching up yet." But the public made One Nation Funkadelic's first million-seller, fueled by the touching sentiments of "Maggot Brain" and "P.E. Squad/Doo Doo Chasers." Clinton's vast funk empire then numbered about fifty-five members; he constantly switched lineups and labels. "I have to play with it," Clinton said. "It's too intense otherwise."
One Nation Under a Groove was chosen as the 177th greatest album of all time by the editors of Rolling Stone magazine in Dec. 2003.
- Rolling Stone, 12/11/03.
Funkadelic liberated rock music from the psychedelic bad trip taken by American West Coast bands at the turn of the 1960s and played a major part in transferring black sounds and rhythms to white rock music. The presence of several ex-members of James Brown's backing band, the JBs -- including ace bassist and showman extraordinaire Bootsy Collins -- was a vital ingredient in the heady Funkadelic brew.
The absurd sense of humor of Funkadelic's leader, George Clinton, manifested itself not only in his colorful, eccentric costumes and circus-like performances but also in the lyrics, track titles, and coherent artistic concept of the band's records. One Nation... was released at the time when the two projects led by Clinton -- Parliament and Funkadelic, which assembled an almost identical lineup of musicians -- merged into one coherent concept band named P-Funk. Members claimed that fans would enjoy transcendental experiences through listening to the music.
One Nation... was a platinum seller. Little wonder there are pure funk numbers descended from James Brown and Sly Stone ("One Nation," "Grooveallegiance"), Hendrix-like guitars ("Who Says A Funk Band Can't Play Rock?!"), and avant-garde dance beats produced by synthesizers and other electronica. The title track, meanwhile, was a U.S. R&B No. 1 and became one of Funkadelic's biggest anthems.
- Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Jach, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, 2005.
As George Clinton once said, "Free your mind and your ass will follow." One Nation was Funkadelic's first million-seller, meaning a million people got down not only to the title track but to the scatological philosophizing of "The Doo Doo Chasers" as well.
One Nation Under a Groove was chosen as the 360th greatest album of all time in a Rolling Stone magazine poll of artists, producers, critics and music industry figures in Oct. 2020.
- Rolling Stone, 10/20.
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