Right from the very beginning of Parliament’s classic album Mothership Connection, we get a strong sense of just what kind of wild ride we’re about to take. “We have taken over your radio to bring you the special show,” a mysterious voice announces. “We will return it to you as soon as you are groovy.” That sets off the basic concept; an intergalactic radio station is broadcasting either directly from outer space, or with a direct connection to it (we’re never quite clear on that). This is the starting point for one of the most influential and ridiculously entertaining funk albums of all-time.
While pretty much every album George Clinton made with Parliament and Funkadelic in their ’70s heyday is well-regarded, Mothership Connection just might be his masterpiece. When considering this album, it’s interesting to look at Clinton’s inspiration behind it. He stated that he enjoyed using his music as a platform to “put black people in situations nobody ever thought they would be in.” For the band’s previous album, Chocolate City, that place was the White House. This time around, they went even further, taking things into outer space. In a way, it was a form of escapism at the most literal level. Where else could one avoid the harsh realities of being black in America, but by blasting off into another solar system?
But while the political ramifications of this album are certainly important, it would be a disservice to not talk about how purely fun this album is. Throughout its 38-minute running time, we meet colorful DJs like Lollipop Man and Starchild, who joke about “doing it in your ear drum.” There’s also no shortage of killer bass lines, and immediately memorable chants, from “make my funk the P-Funk/ I wants to get funked up” to “give up the funk/ we want the funk” to “give the people what they want/ what they want/ and they wants it all the time.” The album is a riot from start to finish, with nary a dull moment in sight.