Thursday, May 17, 2007

Old men, young men

Somebody once said that everyone who came before us is naive and everyone after us is a phony. With that in mind, I just checked out two bands - one from the olden days before me, and one from today.

Parliament's Mothership Connection is perhaps the high-water mark of seventies funk, right before disco came and swept it all aside. The album was released in 1974, and includes some songs you hear on the radio today (or in TV ads): P-Funk, and We Want the Funk.

I was really impressed with the musicianship. The drums are hot, the guitars are red-hot, and the bass steals the show. George Clinton's vocals haven't aged as well. He sounds a little corny when he says "That's the law around here. You got to wear your sunglasses."

But look past the surface, and these guys were living quite a wild life. In fact, despite the crudeness of our contemporary sexual culture (see Paris Hilton), we really aren't in the same league as the P-Funk boys. Quite sobering.

Meanwhile, while TV on the Radio is clearly following in Parliament's footsteps, along with those of U2, they're forging their own path. They aren't poseurs. I haven't enjoyed a rock band this much in quite some time. It's the singing. People don't sing like this very much anymore - as groups.

The vocals really drive the band, but the freshness of the sound can't be missed. There is a realism about the band, but without the fatalism of a lot of today's angst-ridden stuff. They come off as more mature than Parliament, even as they have equally wild hair.

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