How Funkadelic Forged Ahead With ‘Hardcore Jollies’
Board any Mothership full of Funkadelic fans and you'll find a diversity of opinions about Hardcore Jollies, the group's eighth album and first major-label effort.
It's a polarizing project, to be sure. Released Oct. 29, 1976, it caught George Clinton and company in transition — leaving Westbound Records for Warner Bros. — and also under pressure as they prepared for their biggest road trip yet, the P-Funk Earth Tour.
The crew had released a dozen Funkadelic and Parliament albums in a little more than five years, and Funkadelic still owed Westbound a goodbye album — Tales of Kidd Funkadelic, which featured material created at the same time as Hardcore Jollies and was released a month earlier. Clinton was also engaged in spinning off Bootsy Collins' Rubber Band, whose debut album, Stretchin' Out in Bootsy Rubber Band, came out earlier in the year with the even more successful Ahh ... The Name is Bootsy, Baby! on the runway.
So a little burnout was inevitable, or at least a lack of focus, due to being spread thin, and that certainly showed in meandering Hardcore Jollies tracks such as "Smokey" and "Adolescent Funk." In his 2014 memoir, Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin' Kinda Hard on You?, Clinton acknowledged that "there wasn't much of a concept for Hardcore Jollies other than what the title says. It's about playing the shit out of your instrument — or, if you'd prefer, getting your rocks off by getting your rock and roll on. That's why I dedicated the record to 'the guitar players of the world.'"
The guitar players of Funkadelic certainly came to the party for Hardcore Jollies' best moments. Eddie Hazel, billed as Grace Cook, brought his fleet fingers to the ferocious title track and "Comin' Round the Mountain" — a funk update of the "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain" sung by hundreds of millions of elementary school kids and youth summer campers. Garry Shider, Michael "Kidd" Hampton and "The Reverend" Glenn Goins have their six-string moments, too. And a live version of "Cosmic Slop" from the 1973 album of the same name, while seemingly random, finds Shider and Hampton in tandem glory.
Listen to Funkadelic's 'Comin' Round the Mountain'
Elsewhere the estimable talents of some truly hardcore funk virtuosos — Bernie Worrell on keyboards, Bootsy Collins and Cordell "Boogie" Mosson on bass and Jerome Bradley on drums, with Band of Gypsies' Buddy Miles guesting on "Comin' Round the Mountain" — made sure that even what may be a subpar Funkadelic joint was the kind of album most any other band would die to have. And if it's songs you're looking for, the smoothly melodic "Soul Mate" holds up well anywhere in the P-Funk canon.
The album would, however, mark the last hurrah for singers Clarence "Fuzzy" Haskins, Calvin Simon and Grady Thomas, who'd been with Clinton since the doo-wop days of the Parliaments but left the P-Funk fold primarily over financial matters. They later formed a group called Original P and would eventually find their way back as part of various lineups of the P-Funk All Stars.
Watch Funkadelic Perform 'Cosmic Slop' Live in 1976
The might of its new major label did push Hardcore Jollies to No. 12 on the Billboard R&B chart and into the Top 200 as well. But it was overshadowed by Collins' solo record, by the P-Funk Earth Tour and, less than a year later, by One Nation Under a Groove, a masterpiece that gave Funkadelic their first No. 1 R&B and platinum album and their first placement in the Billboard Top 20.
Nevertheless, Clinton called Hardcore Jollies "a hell of an album," and you'll likely find more than a few Mothership devotees who will agree.