The first album by Parliament in half a decade, 1974’s “Up From the Down Stroke” (also known as UFTDS) is a fantastic indication of what the sound of Funk was going to be. Beginning with the title track, an anthem announcing the carefree affectations of what Funk signified and embodied, the stage was set for an album of upbeat music.
UFTHD experiments with the psychedelic sound of the 1960s that the group used as a launching pad for the bevy of sounds and styles brought together for their first album. In many ways UFTDS is a crossbridge from the “flower-power” of “Osmium” and “Free Your Mind” to the polish and tightness of “Trombiplation” at the end of the decade.
Could you imagine Judy Garland not playing Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz? There was yet another child actress considered for the MGM movie role—Shirley Temple.
George Clinton decided in 1969 to take a break from Parliament. This five-year hiatus explains the gap between “Osmium” and UFTDS. During this time, Funkadelic was consistently putting out material from their debut in 1970 to their sixth release “Standing on the Verge of Getting It On” by 1974.
The sound of the 1970s wasn’t disco. Disco was a piece of black culture being brought to a white plate. A black dish for a white palate.
It was a sound innovated by James Brown in the mid-’60s and perfected by Clinton, Collins, Worrell, Hazel and every person who sang or contributed to either Funkadelic or Parliament.
UFTDS is a great “get up and dance” funk song. Great writing and a grooving bass a plenty with memorable lyrics:
Every kid in the ‘60s Southern California scene would “Shimmy and Shake” to the sounds of Dick Dale and his Stratocaster guitar, where as a lefty he picked the strings upside-down because it was too hard to build a guitar upside down in those days.
“I don’t care about the cold baby; Cause when you’re hot, you’re too much.
“Its all about the Party yall! Lets take it to the stage!”
“Testify” is sung in a very throaty and soulful manner by Mr. Clinton himself.
This version of the song is less “Temptation-ey” than its predecessor with crisper production. A song about a man testifying to whomever about the changes his friends have noted in him. A simple song about a man down and out meeting a woman who changed his life.
“The Goose” is a nine-minute song that brings the acid rock, funk, soul and wit from Funkadelic to a Parliament album.
A song that does drag on if you listen to it more than a few times a month, though the song isn’t intended as a single.
This is very much an album song, for the album to be listened to with the rest of the album. This is not the last time Parliament would reference fictional stories in their albums, for one reason or another.
Everywhere I turn, every time I look at TV, every publication I read, Bruce’s brooding face beckons me.
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“I Can Move You” brings a catchy-as-hell chorus with excellent drumming and bass work along with some over the top singing and lots of guitar licks with gospel inspiration.
“I Just Got Back” takes you on a wonderfully lush trip through the universe to encounter whatever the cosmos can throw at you.
This is a wonderful song to listen to on its own if you need a pick-me-up or to further the emptiness you’re feeling at the moment. This is one of those songs that manages to depress me and lift my spirits all in the span of less than five minutes. If I had knowledge of this song in high school, I would have never been depressed.
The Spanish guitar and piano fit in beautifully with the well-timed whistling.
“All Your Goodies Are Gone” was actually recorded earlier by The Parliaments in the ‘60s with Mr. Clinton.
The song begins with a killer bass line.
The background singers sound menacingly ominous as the song closes out with a piano solo and “all your goodies are gone” being repeated over and over. This song is about a man exclaiming his own self worth by leaving a loveless relationship.
Realizing that his use in their partner’s life is not equally valued, the singer vows to not let himself be hurt, extricating himself from the situation as soon as they can.
“Well, now I know that I am first on your list
“And if I leave, I’m gonna be missed
“I cannot take a chance on you
“It’s so easy to become number two”
“Whatever Makes Baby Feel Good” is an overtly sexual blues song that’s been sent to the funk factory and repackaged into a Parliament song. The true standouts are the guitar work, with little licks in between each line, and the over-singing of Eddie Hazel. The bridge of the song is complimented by a mesmerizing guitar solo that you’d expect to be on a Funkadelic album.
“Presence of a Brain” is an aimless philosophical song inquiring about the whereabouts of a man’s brain.
In short, it just asks for peace. Not a whole lot to say about this song, sadly. A great album closer, but nothing too crazy.