Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Funkadelic—
I Got A Thing, You Got A Thing.../Fish, Chips And Sweat


Released 1970 on Westbound
The Seth Man, June 2001ce
Issued in the spring of 1970 to no recognition whatsoever, Funkadelic’s third single were two onstage jams nailed down into tight-but-loose blow-outs. The A-side appeared on Funkadelic’s self-titled debut album, though here the last minute’s worth of freak/funk out was shaved off, while the B-side -- unique to this single -- reflected but two of the manifold musical directions Funkadelic were exploring/exploding into simultaneously at this earliest and most chaotic points of their ever-chaotic career. The sessions at which both tracks were recorded featured upward to fifteen musicians in total, with a mere five copping credit on the back cover of the first album. The earliest personnel lineups within Funkadelic are notoriously sketchy but on this single, numerous vocalists who counted within the ranks of both Funkadelic and Parliament were in attendance, joining the musical core that comprised Funkadelic: Eddie Hazel, guitar; Billy “Bass” Nelson, bass; Bernie Worrell, keyboards; Tiki Fulwood, drums and perhaps Tawl Ross on rhythm guitar.
“I Got A Thing, You Got A Thing, Everybody’s Got A Thing” was written, sung and beautifully borrowed from the affirmative gospel tune, “I Got Shoes, You Got Shoes, All God’s Children’s Got Shoes” by vocalist Fuzzy Haskins. The usual Funkadelic crew was augmented by at least one outside musician: Ray Monette, Rare Earth lead guitarist who opens the piece with a wah-wah guitar as razor sharp as it is incisively quick and controlled. It resonates -- or maybe that should read “RESIN-nate” as it’s as sticky as an ancient hash pipe bowl -- with inadvertent rockabilly slapback echo until the rest of the band barge in and then it translates into a trebly triple-time, triply-treble time speedo riff that almost seeks to imitate a sped-up organ played at 78rpm. It’s a double time instrumental bridge of the most teeth-grinding, amphetamine freak-out variety, landing back down to earth in time for Fuzzy to wax in a “I’m Not Like Anybody Else”-like freak flag proclamation:

”You don’t drink what I drink,
You don’t smoke what I smoke,
You don’t think like I think,
You don’t joke like I joke”

Right on all four counts, Mr. Haskins, right on. All too soon, as the massed choir of Parliament voices raise the title to the highest level of incantation and chant, it fades. Because after all, it was a single and they were trying to get it on the radio, so there was no sense in keeping the second funk blitz attack intact, right? Oh, the rules of airplay: turning pure sex into perpetual, dissatisfied foreplay...it appears in its entirety on the first Funkadelic album, so no sweat.

Speaking of sweat...

Bernie Worrell joined George Clinton’s musical brainchild at this time and on the B-side, “Fish, Chips And Sweat” begun his tenure that would be as long-lasting as it would be completely integral to their sonic creations over many, many albums. His range of styles and colorations are as wide as his subtle, un-erring sense of musical humour and overall playfulness that send everything he accompanied into the sublime. And the opening notes of “Fish, Chips And Sweat” sees his light-hearted, purposefully jerking ‘merry-go-round’ organ riff intro body-slammed into a booty-loosening and ever-stomping groove over a recounting of late night shenanigans with “love on our mind” and fried food in an aura of pure celebratory acid jive and plain tomfoolery. But when Billy Bass puts forth his vocal imperative hook, “DIG -- And that’s a groove!!!” it ain’t nothing but (A groove, that is). Meanwhile, Eddie “God” Hazel lets loose with a crystalline and ultra-catchy hook guitar line that follows Billy Bass’ vocals, accented by Fulwood’s mammoth tom toms as they translate through the over-EQ’ed mastering into a clump of veritable bass drums (With such leakage galore, it had to be entirely re-equalised for the 2 CD singles package, “Music For My Mother” to bring the greasy damn thing back to earth. Unfortunately, they also stripped it of its stupendous reverb, a prevalent trait of Funkadelic’s early Westbound singles.) Hazel’s lead then plays off the non-lyric chorus of “la-la/la-la-la/la-la-la/la-la” PERFECTLY. And although they sing it only three times, the entirety of “Fish, Chips And Sweat” could be just that wordless melody with Hazel’s guitar line, over and over and over. It’s beyond catchy at this point; it’s a trippy toes epistle to dippy, neatly missing all of reality’s landmines in a field of life at once random with insanity, but resolute in feeling and freed from all things...non-funky.

“Fish, Chips And Sweat” was based on a 1966 George Clinton’s song, “Baby, That’s A Groove” recorded by Roy Handy, and it would not be the first nor last time a Clinton track would resurface from his past into his future. But when they sing “You should have seen my woman move / hey, hey, hey / We found our groove” against THAT beat? You better believe that they had indeed, found their groove.