It could be argued that George Clinton’s ”Atomic Dog” has been the most influential piece of pop music in the past decade. Its springy funk rhythm and its sexy lyrical metaphor have been sampled, reinterpreted, and ripped off by a slew of artists, and have given the 54-year-old Clinton an unprecedented credibility among young rap and rhythm & blues performers. Now, on The Awesome Power of a Fully-Operational Mothership, Clinton returns the favor by showing what he’s learned from the whippersnappers. Fronting a revitalized edition of his veteran band the P-Funk Allstars, Clinton offers a state-of-the-art version of funk. The most immediately striking thing about TAPOFOM is the way Clinton has taken a cue from Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg and slowed down the beat to a languid sensuousness. This is music stretched like a rubber band, with grooves made daringly pliant and elastic on cuts like ”If Anybody Gets Funked Up, It’s Gonna Be You,” ”Summer Swim,” and what might be perceived as a slacker anthem, ”Sloppy Seconds” (”If it’s workin’ for you in the first place/Second is where you wanna be”).
An incorrigibly democratic leader, Clinton has, in the past, frequently delegated the vocals to his instrumentalists, but TAPOFOM finds him front and center, crooning and murmuring his trademark puns and dirty jokes in a relaxed manner. Clinton also pushes female voices forward in the mix to a degree he hasn’t done since his ’70s work with the Brides of Funkenstein. He persists in the creation of vital funk music, ”stickin’ to it,” as the naughty Clinton says on ”Funky Kind,” ”like hot grits on Al Green.” Amen. A-