In describing Parliament and Funkadelic, the simplest definitions often worked the best. Parliament was considered “the horn band,” while Funkadelic was “the guitar band.” No matter what you called either one, both of them were funky, just in different ways. A few weeks ago, I noted that I hadn’t included James Brown in a Funky Friday post. Much like that, I hadn’t done any of George Clinton’s bands or associated acts on Funky Friday either. I have posted Funkadelic before, on the two successive weeks prior to the start of Funky Friday. Parliament have also been represented with one of the earliest of the Morning Grooves. But neither have actually made it on a Funky Friday post.
Until today, that is.
“Flash Light,” perhaps Parliament’s best-known and most adored jam, is the Funky Friday song of the week.
The song was co-written by Clinton, Bootsy Collins and the song’s MVP, the late Bernie Worrell. Worrell played every keyboard part on the song, and if you are familiar with it, you will note that the bass on the song is played on a synthesizer. More accurately, the bass line in the song is a combination of several synthesizers played together. There is a story that the original bass line was written for Collins, but he rejected the part, and ended up playing drums on the track instead. Props must also be given to Bootsy’s brother, Phelps “Catfish” Collins, for the great rhythm guitar line. Worrell also figures in this blog’s theme music; he played the all the keyboard parts on that as well.
“Flash Light” would become a #1 R&B hit, the first one out of the Parliament-Funkadelic-Clinton factory, and would see significant pop chart action as well, landing at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100. For a song from the purported “horn band,” there aren’t a lot of horns on it—just some saxophone wailing towards the end. “Flash Light” was the first in a string of funky hits to come from the Clinton camp: next up was “Bootzilla” from Bootsy’s Rubber Band, then “One Nation Under A Groove” by Funkadelic, which was followed by Parliament’s “Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadooloop)” and finished by Funkadelic by “(Not Just) Knee Deep” in 1979. All five of these songs were #1 R&B hits, most for multiple weeks.
Please enjoy “Flash Light”—after all, “everybody’s got a little light under the sun!” Thanks again for reading and listening, and hope your weekend gets off to a great start.