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ALEX COHEN, host:

Back now with Day to Day, and Mr. Clinton.

Mr. GEORGE CLINTON: (Rapping) E to the Yak. Oh, I'm the Jack, And I'm back on the scene with my record machine Saying, ooh, pop, bah, do. How y'all do? Let's go wiggle. W-E-F-U-N-K.

BRAND: Yeah, that would be George Clinton, not Bill. You might remember him as the lead man of Parliament-Funkadelic, otherwise known as P-Funk. George Clinton is now 67 years old, but that is not slowing him down. He has a new album, and he's still living most of his life on the road. Music journalist Christian Bordal caught up with him before a recent show at L.A.'s Club Nokia.

(Soundbite of song "Pledging My Heart")

Mr. CLINTON: (Singing) My heart's at your command, dear, to keep love and to hold...

CHRISTIAN BORDAL: Anyone who ever funkied down at a George Clinton show won't recognize the three-ring circus master of '70s funkdom on much of his latest album, "George Clinton and His Gangsters of Love." Despite guest appearances by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Santana, many of his old P-Funk compatriots, the latest CD is mostly straight covers of old love songs.

(Soundbite of song "Pledging My Heart")

Mr. CLINTON: (Singing) Forever, my darling, our love will be true. Always and forever, I love you...

BORDAL: Weird, yeah, until you find out that George Clinton started out as a doo-wop singer.

Mr. CLINTON: (Singing) Who wrote the Book of Love.

The Monotones lived about 10 blocks from me. Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, about four blocks. Little Rascals, they called themselves Joey Dee and the Starliters, like, you know, used to have a battle of the groups in between gang fights.

BORDAL: But when Clinton started hearing English bands, like Cream and the Rolling Stones, with a whole new take on American roots music, he decided to jump the doo-wop ship for the next wave.

Mr. CLINTON: It was at the end of Motown's reign when we started seeing this music coming from England, you know, back to the States, and it was, like, all this soul, R&B stuff that I just heard when I was in grade school. Some of it was older than that; some of it was my mother's music. And like, the Cream was doing "Crossroads" and stuff like that. I said, wait a minute, we're going in the wrong direction. So, we just made a quick turnaround and threw our suits away. Got some jeans with holes in them and patches in them, and started becoming hippies.

(Soundbite of song "Bop Gun (One Nation)")

THE PARLIAMENT-FUNKADELIC: (Singing) Ready or not, here we come. Getting down on the one which we believe in...

BORDAL: The '70s and early '80s were the most creatively productive years for George Clinton and his Parliament-Funkadelic outfits. They tugged and tore at straight funk and rock music until it was distorted into long, funky streams of consciousness with space rock, prog rock, psychedelic, even classical touches all thrown in. And most of the tunes he performs live still come from that period.

(Soundbite of song "Bop Gun (One Nation)")

THE PARLIAMENT-FUNKADELIC: (Singing) Ready or not, here we come...

BORDAL: Clinton's bands became huge conglomerates of musicians that he collected over time. At his recent L.A. show, there were about 20 people on stage, many of whom have been playing with George since the '70s. He says it's like a big musical family, the way Motown once was.

Mr. CLINTON: Well, they've been in the group forever. There's so much talent, but it's about the Motown family, too. We just kept that going from where they stopped at; we just kept that going.

BORDAL: And not just on stage. Backstage in his touring Winnebago, an endless stream of musicians and tour personnel come wandering through. There's music director Gary Shider, a.k.a. Diaper Man, so-called because, despite being well into his 50s now, he still wears nothing but a diaper on stage every night. There's singer Gene "Poo Poo Man" Anderson, weighed down in a mountain of bling. Even the reclusive Sly Stone appears incognito in a kind of ninja costume.

Mr. SLY STONE (Musician; Songwriter; Record Producer): Hello there, National Public Radio.

Mr. CLINTON: Got some cool people to play that cool music.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. STONE: All you cats and kitties out there whippin' and wailin' and jumping up and down and suckin' up all that old juice and hippin' and tellin' each other who the greatest cat in the world is. I'm going to put a cat on you that was the coolest, strongest, sweetest cat that ever stomped on this sweet, swingin' sphere. Check this out.

(Shouting) George Clinton, yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of song "Give up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)")

THE PARLIAMENT-FUNKADELIC: (Singing) You've got a real type of thing going down, gettin' down. There's a whole lot of rhythm going round. You've got a real type of thing going down, gettin' down. There's a whole lot of rhythm going round...

BORDAL: George Clinton has spent 67 years on, or hovering somewhere near, this Earth. He no longer has much of a voice left for crooning love songs. But I'm reminded of one of his old album titles, "Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow."

(Soundbite of laughter)

BORDAL: That's pure George Clinton: profane, raucous, funny, willing to pursue the funk wherever it leads. So, if you're in the mood for some booty jamming, just don't miss a chance to catch him and his band live. They still make a party happen every night. And after all, we want the funk; we've got to have that funk.

(Soundbite of song "Give up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)")

THE PARLIAMENT-FUNKADELIC: (Singing) Ow, we want the funk. Give up the funk. Ow, we want the funk...

BORDAL: For NPR News, this is Christian Bordal.

(Soundbite of song "Give up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)")

THE PARLIAMENT-FUNKADELIC: (Singing) We've gotta have that funk. Ow, we want the funk. Give up the funk. Ow, we need the funk...

COHEN: The new album is "George Clinton and His Gangsters of Love." Music journalist Christian Bordal joins us from right here in sunny Southern California.

(Soundbite of song "Give up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)")

THE PARLIAMENT-FUNKADELIC: (Singing) Ow, we want the funk. Let us in, we'll turn this mother out. (Gotta have that funk.) Ow, we want the funk. Give up the funk...

COHEN: If you need that funk, you can hear classic George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic tunes on our Web site at nprmusic.org.

(Soundbite of song "Give up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)")

THE PARLIAMENT-FUNKADELIC: (Singing) We're gonna turn this mother out. (We need the funk.) Give up the funk. We're gonna turn this mother out. (We want the funk.) We've gotta have that funk.

We're gonna turn this mother out. (We need the funk.) Give up the funk. We're gonna turn this mother out. (We want the funk.) We've gotta have that funk.

Ow, we want the funk. Give up the funk. Let us in, we'll turn this mother out. (Gotta have that funk.) Ow, we want the funk. Give up the funk. Ow, we need the funk. Let us in, we'll turn this mother out. (Gotta have that funk.)

COHEN: Day to Day is a production of NPR News with contributions from Slate.com. I'm Alex Cohen.

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