If there's nothing more pathetic than an ageing crazy person, then why is George Clinton still able to make music as passionate, hard and funny as Some Of My Best Friends Are Jokes? For nearly 20 years Clinton has steered his multifarious front organisations – Funkadelic, Parliament, Bootsy's Rubber Band, The Brides Of Funkenstein, Parlet and all the others in his Mothership – on a voyage of exploration in search of the Holy Grail of pure, uncut funk. At times, his interlocking network of conceptual gags has sent him too far into warp space for his work to be even halfway comprehensible to all but his most obsessive devotees; at others, he's simply spread himself too thin to comfort. But when he connects...
Since 1982, a welter of lawsuits and contractual weirdness has brought him out from under his disguises to operate in the open as plain George Clinton. Computer Games, which included the surreal dance-floor gem 'Atomic Dog', was a major return to form, and any criticisms with which last year's You Shouldn't-Nut Bit Fish may have met are swept away by this, the finest outbreak of Clintonia since the helium days of Mothership Connections, Clone Theories and Flashlights.
To put it another way, are you up for an album which concerns itself with sex and the bomb, and presents its author's ruminations on these two perennial topics against a backdrop of murderer-style grooves and the kind of drum sounds that have you glancing at your stereo wondering exactly what kind of beast has been let loose in your room? The opening 'Double Oh Oh' boasts a percussive assault that makes any or Trevor Horn's drum sounds come on like someone tapping a pencil against their teeth, and that's just for openers. Clinton's sex tunes (like 'Double Oh Oh', 'Pleasures Of Exhaustion' and 'Bodyguard') have a warm, inviting, playful sensuality, which is doubly appealing and enticing when juxtaposed with the terror and anger of something like 'Bullet Proof' ('I ain't bullet-proof/I won't wear the ball and chain...I ain't gonna fight your war!') or the sacrificing title track and the other collaboration with Thomas Dolby, 'Thrashin".
"The missle business booms!" Clinton announces over some of the most jumping bass, drum and horn parts of the year on 'Thrashin", adding a warning to take cover in the groove. A few years ago, Clinton visualised One Nation Under A Groove: groove as metaphor for an all-embracing revolution of consciousness. Now the best the groove can manage is to function as a psychic bomb-shelter.
On the title tune, he presents the aphorism "The world is equal proportions of bullseyes and bullsh*t". Some Of My Best Jokes Are Friends consists of wall-to-wall bullseyes. And some of his best jokes are serious.