Picks and Pans Review: Computer Games
updated 02/28/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 02/28/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST
From Bruce Springsteen to Bob Seger to Billy Joel to Grand Master Flash, musicians are singing about lean times and in many cases stripping down the sound to match. But not funk pioneer George Clinton, the founder and continuing guru of the ebullient Parliament/Funkadelic rhythm-and-blues empire. No bare bones for him. To listen to Clinton's first LP under his own name is to parachute into the midst of plenty: instruments, rhythms, sound effects (including synthesized dog barks), laughs, hand claps and fore-and background vocals. Recession? What recession? This is a defiant block party on vinyl, crazy, celebratory and crammed with activity. Clinton's style has always been cornucopian, but after a recent decline he has returned to peak form with Computer Games. One mark of the quality is that the slower songs aren't just filler, least of all Free Alterations, a soothing and gently humorous contemplation of, among other things, an afterlife. Of the hot dance tunes—and there is no dearth of these—the most irresistible is Man's Best Friend, with its slippery, roiling rhythm. "A dog is man's best friend," the background singers repeat. By the middle of the piece they seem to be saying, "A song is man's best friend." And whether or not the ambiguity is intentional, Clinton's message for lean times comes down to exactly that.