A recounting of George Clinton’s recording career, from his Motown beginnings (the Parliaments’ “(I Wanna) Testify” charted number three R & B in 1967) to his latest CD (Hey Man … Smell My Finger), won’t be crammed into this 286-word nutshell, but there is room to note that Finger finds him incorporating samples–most of which come from his own bulging discography. Though it’s less about breaking new ground than about Clinton asserting his relevance to R & B today, Finger is nonetheless a solid piece of work well worthy of being spliced onto the endless dance tape that is Clinton’s oeuvre. No moody introvert, Clinton is at heart a collaborator and a ringleader–Finger’s credits feature 39 players, 56 singers and rappers, and countless cowriters and production people. In live performances that constantly threaten to explode into chaos, he maintains unerring control over the proceedings with fascinating subtlety–rather as Count Basie used to make his boss-blasting Kansas City big band turn on a dime simply by lifting an index finger. A typical three-hour P-Funk performance impresses not only with its almost inhumanly relentless drive, but also with Clinton’s ability to keep things interesting, carefully shifting the emphasis, from one player to the next as the sacramental funk continues to flow. Certainly there’s something sublime about this 53-year-old’s adamant refusal to mellow out. Clinton’s world-embracing irrepressibility should be an inspiration to anyone who’s ever been told by anyone, for any reason, to sit down and shut up. Friday, 9 PM, Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison; 327-1662 or 477-7469. Saturday, 9:30 PM, Skyline Stage, Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand; 559-1212 or 791-7437 Friday and Saturday, Lollopolooza, World Music Theatre, 1-80 and Harlem, Tinley Park; 559-1212 or 708-614-1616.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/James T. Crump.