Last night I listened to Funkadelic’s self titled debut album released in 1970 but containing tracks released in 1969, such as the single “I’ll Bet You”. I thought to myself, why did I not hear these songs on “underground” radio at the time? It occurred to me that there must have been limited shelf space for black music on rock radio (this phenomena grew worse over time). Yes, I do remember that a limited number of slots were reserved for women and black American or Latino artists (with even less space for other world music such as, Asian, European (other than British), African or Caribbean). You would hear Aretha, Joni Mitchell, Otis, Hendrix, Santana and Sly but the rest of the spectrum was reserved for white males. Nevertheless, a few white males were treated similarly to minorities – namely, Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart. I never heard them played on radio, except for hearing Zappa’s music, albeit played by Jean Luc Ponty, on college radio. Which brings me back to Funkadelic.
George Clinton’s sense of humor (or, reality as I call it) seems to be similar to Zappa’s and Captain Beefheart’s. And the playing on this album is on par with or surpassing any rock music at the time. “Qualify and Satisfy” reminds me of what Cream would have sounded like if they were black.
Funkadelic were not as commercially appealing as Sly and the Family Stone but they were possibly more relevant and long lasting.