I The Liberties: Coleuroi my Car (Chrysalis) I‘ll confess that what I know about country music could be inscribed, very gingerly, on a baked bean, sol feel on shaky ground. ‘Colour of my Car’ would have to be ticked in all the right boxes: strong, direct song, strong voice, oozing pathos, but not ladelled on the way the ‘affectionate‘ pisstakes do it, and the pedal steel makes the right loopy noises. I guess it passes with flying colours. but I fancy that the pop kids will give it a wide berth. (AM)

IThe Pier: 15 Years? (I Don’t Mind) (Chariot) Not just one more in an endless procession of melodic indie groups, The Pier, as their name suggests, jut out a long way (the same could be said of a group that called itself Tadger, but that‘s another matter entirely). ‘15 Years‘ is an epic song of desire that leaves the janeg ones miles behind, and if you‘ve a couple of quid to spare at the end of a Saturday afternoon‘s shopping, it would be worth everyone‘s while to seek out a shop that stocks it. (AM)

I Bedgeweerer. This Bag is not I Toy (Grull Wll)That endangered species the Scottish indie single seems to be waking from its slumbers, and ‘gruff wit‘ is an apt description of the contents of this 7in. ‘Busspass Conspiracy‘ has the dryness and cheapness of very early Fall, and if you detect shades of Half Man Half Biscuit in titles like ‘(Two Minutes in the Very Dubious Company of) Walter Clark’, you might be perceptive enough to hazard a guess at the kind of heads-down spikey racket herein. That Walter Clark really exists I have no doubt. (AM)

' - hf: I FAB lecturing lilc Parker: thundertrlnis are Go

(T elsterqulture Culture: Europe Unite (Acme) What both these discs have in common is that the ‘people‘ who feature on them don't actually exist. The Thunderbirds one is better because it doesn‘t feature a rap putting down soccer violence (and frenzied axe solo!) by someone purporting to be Roy Race of Roy of the Rovers fame. He clearly needs help. ‘Thunderbirds are Go‘ is basically a

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Funky dread

George Clinton set out to save dance music from the blahs, and won. Alastair Mabbott pins the tale on the funky.

‘You cannot make sense and still be funky,’ George Clinton has declared, and the fans he‘s picked up in the 35 years since he became a professional recording artist would agree, on funkological grounds: that is, he's perfectly clear before you understand him; once you understand him, he makes no sense.

Confused? It has been known to happen where Clinton (whose thoughts take a total immersion in the funk to get used to) is concerned, and the longer you look at the life and music of this weird-looking dude, the stranger it seems.

Born in North Carolina in 1940 (although some accounts have his birthplace as Ohio), he started out on the conventional doo-wop route, even singing on street corners in New York. In 1955, he formed The Parliaments, whose hit with ‘(I Wanna) Testify‘ twelve years later was the high-point ofa rocky career which ended in litigation. Clinton lost the right to use the name of the group he had subsidised with the takings from his New Jersey barbershop.

Reviving his career with escapees from James Brown’s band Bootsy Collins, Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley - and moving to Detroit, Clinton began to put together his P-Funk concept, spurred on by his new heroes and copious quantites of LSD-25. He was fascinated by the adventurousness of late-60$ rock, and the breaking down of barriers between black and white audiences that was being effected by Sly Stone and Jimi Hendrix. However, Clinton took things one step further by inventing a kaleidoscopic science fiction setting with its own vocabulary, mythology and extreme theatrical flair. The effect was dazzling, and disconcerting for those expecting a choreographed Motown revue. Parliament and Funkadelic were at odds with that kind of slickness, but Clinton schooled his bands with a discipline that must have felt familiar to the ex-James Brown sidemen. Throughout the 705, his influence grew and the groups under his wing included Bootsy’s Rubber Band, Parlet and The Brides of Funkenstein, The Horny Horns, Bernie Worrell, Zapp and The Sweat Band, as well as Parliament and Funkadelic.

Clinton’s racial politics have always been present in his music, but sugared byhis unique sense of humour (not forgetting that of sleeve

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designer Pedro Bell). Since the early Funkadelic days, he has gleefully combined genres, stretching the boundaries ofwhat is considered acceptable for black musicians to play. Hendrix was the spark for Living Color, but Clinton kept the flame burning by spreading ‘Maggot Brain‘ guitar solos all over Funkadelic tracks in the 705.

It’s hard to imagine De La Soul perfecting their laid-back Day-Glo style, and trippily-named Daisy Age stance, without Clinton paving the way. Yet to the separatist Public Enemy, who obviously took his 1975 track ‘Chocolate City‘ quite differently, he is also a guru. Clinton saw no difficulty in recording with

Chuck D and Flavor Flav after they turned his ‘Free Your Ass and Your Mind Will Follow‘ into the lyrically harder-edged ‘Fight the Power'.

Clinton‘s McLarenesque handling of record companies is legend. Parliament and Funkadelic, despite comprising the same musicians, were signed, famously and legitimately. to different labels. But in the late 70$, his by-then intensely convoluted business affairs ran into trouble, and the roof he spoke of tearing off fell in on him.

He was rescued by Capitol, who offered him a solo artist deal surprisingly, his first and after four albums and a subsequent five-year silence, Clinton surfaced in 1989 on

38The List 29 June— 12 July 1990