Archive for the ‘Cadenza’ Category

The importance of criticism

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008 | Cecilia Razak
Student Life Archives

It’s easy to forget how important a disparaging voice can be. Without the snarl of incredulous criticism, we might skip through life listening happily to Duran Duran or enjoying the occasional Uwe Bol film. No, it’s lucky you’ve got us, your fault-finding and unsympathetic critics here at Cadenza.

Our mission statement is simple: no judgment is too judgmental and all criticism should be critical.

These days things seem so light-hearted; summer blockbusters slip by unreprimanded and over-attended, prime-time programming escapes ungrazed by critics’ hands, music by artists almost everyone has heard of is listened to by millions. It’s a dangerous, lowest-common denominator world we live in, and too often we go through our day without being reminded of it. Imagine what life would be like without people informing you of your opinion. It’s a scary thought, I know, but join me in a foray into a world without criticism.

In this world, films would come out with no plot or reason. They would be created for shock value and designed to fit around as many explosions as cinematically possible. They would sock the maximum amount of violence into each frame, supplemented by fleeting frontal nudity.

Since sex would be so much more dangerous to the public than gore, these moments would be deemed unsafe for children; more stringent ratings would be placed on those movies about love than those about killing your fellow man. Almost no films would be directed by women.

Sometimes a movie would be made for the sole purpose of carrying a star, an actor with a high Q whose presence in the film is calculated deliberately to raise their status and income. These films would be shameless in their lack of artistic value, and vehicular in their lack of any other function.

Without critics, the need for talented writers would fall by the wayside. Ask yourself why television executives would pay that crack team of English majors when they could simply allow beautiful people to strut and fret their unscripted fifteen minutes on the stage. Programming would turn into a televised wasteland where contestants on game, dating, and reality shows would rule the world. Some of them would garner coveted movie roles in star vehicles.

Music would be written for one-month, non-stop runs on radio stations, and would be sung by not-yet-fallen Disney stars or long-ago-fallen rappers who have remixed those Disney songs. Singles would triumph over cohesive albums, and the same three-chord progression would be inescapable.

Without reviewers, books would be almost unheard of, and conspiracy-driven novels about the Catholic church would rule the best-seller’s list. Self-help books would be ubiquitous, and the only way to navigate them would be to purchase a self-help book about doing so. Cliffs notes would outsell their source material. Peer-edited websites would become most people’s primary source of information.

The New York Times would be half as long, pundits would jabber incomprehensibly, politicians would get away with lord knows what, and the world would descend into chaos. Without criticism there would be nowhere to turn, no safe haven or voice of reason to temper the insanity and the bloodthirsty advertising. No one would speak out against the dull or up for the little guy making art in his garage.

Yes, it’s a dangerous, frightening world we’ve invented here. Thank your lucky stars it’s a fantasy, and tune in to Cadenza three times a week to make sure it stays that way. Because what’s entertainment without that sweet taste of disdain?

The Venue Guide 2008

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008 | Student Life Cadenza Staff
Scott Bressler

Did you somehow find time between Calculus and Chief English Writers to watch TV and catch a good preview? Read that the new Will Ferrell movie was actually funny again? Heard that your favorite obscure indie band was coming to the Pageant, but have no idea what that means? Here is your guide to movies and music venues around St. Louis-all of which you can get to without the use of a car. Walk or take St. Louis’ fine public transportation (free, thanks to your magical UPass) which I’ve found can often be just as entertaining as your destination.

Movie Venues

The Tivoli
Located right on the Loop, built in 1924, this theater, with three viewing screens, mostly shows foreign and independent films. The theater is a nice walk from campus, and with all the restaurants on the Loop, you can get dinner before the movie, or Ben and Jerry’s after. If you’re walking coming from campus, just take a right at Blueberry Hill.

To check tickets and showtimes online:

The Esquire
The Esquire is also a short walk from campus, located on the corner of Clayton Road and Big Bend, right by St. Louis Bread Co. (also known as Panera). This is my least favorite movie theater in St. Louis, but I’m obligated to inform you of its existence. The Esquire shows more recent, mainstream films.

The Galleria 6
Conveniently located downstairs by the food court in the St. Louis Galleria, which is right off the Brentwood stop on the MetroLink. I wasn’t used to paying less than $10 for a movie after 6 p.m. but here students pay $6 all the time. The theaters are average sized and the seats recline. If you’re afraid your movie is going to be sold out, you can just get there early because remember, you are in a mall. My biggest complaint is that there is no trivia before the movie starts, but instead, you get advertisements to buy wine and beer at the concession stand, so it’s a pretty fair trade-off.

Chase Park Plaza Cinemas
My favorite movie theater, located in the hip niche of St. Louis known as the Central West End. My friends and I usually go to the movies and then get dessert and coffee at a quirky café. The five theaters themselves are cozy and adorable with ornate hand-painted walls. There is stadium seating, the seats recline. If you’re lucky, you will get to listen to the manager as he doubles as organ player before the movie starts, and when you leave, they give you candy.

To get to the Chase Park Plaza take the metro to the Central West End stop, taking a right out of the station. Walk about four blocks and take a right on Lindell Blvd.

The Moolah-“St. Louis’ largest living room”
The Moolah is an amazingly weird place. It is literally a large living room with couches set up sporadically in front of a huge projection screen (there are actual seats too, but the couches are why you go to the Moolah). The theater shows mainstream movies during the day. But, the best movies are those shown at midnight. They are usually offbeat films like The Warriors and Labyrinth.

To get to the Moolah, you can walk a little more than a mile from the Central West End Stop. Just take a left on Lindell and you’ll eventually reach the theater. Or, you can take the WUSTL Gold bus from Mallinckrodt (or the DUC) to the Central West End bus station. Then take Metro Bus Routes 92 or 93 from the station and get off at Vandeventer. It’s kind of a pain to get there, but it’s worth it every once and a while.

The Metro Train and Bus routes and timetables can be found at

Music Venues

The Pageant
The Pageant can be found on the Loop. Just take a left when you get to Blueberry Hill, and keep walking (it’s past the Tivoli). It’s a pretty small venue, ticket prices are reasonable and most shows are general admission. This is to your advantage because you feel really close to the stage no matter where you are standing, and you can usually see everything going on stage. The Pageant usually scores some pretty big acts too. There are tables and other seating if you’re over 21.

To see who’s coming to The Pageant, you can check out their calendar.

The Gargoyle
The student-run Gargoyle is conveniently located in the lower level of Mallinckrodt. What’s great is the tickets are almost always free with your Wash. U. ID and they bring in both local and national acts. Last year, the Gargoyle hosted Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Cascada, Girl Talk and Stars, among others.

Saint Louis University’s Billiken Club
Essentially SLU’s Gargoyle equivalent, the Billiken Club is on the bottom floor of SLU’s Busch Student Center. It’s about a ten-minute walk from the Grand stop off the MetroLink. In the past, they’ve had acts like British Sea Power, Dan Deacon and The Mountain Goats.
You can find upcoming acts at

Graduation flicks

Monday, May 5th, 2008 | Student Life Cadenza Staff
Scott Bressler

Congratulations seniors! In honor of your awesome accomplishment, we here at Cadenza have compiled a few reviews of classic graduation movies. Now sit back, relax and watch one of these greats. And then maybe think about getting a job.

The Graduate

You may be wondering what “The Graduate” has to do with graduation. You may be questioning what on earth it could be doing here amidst these other, more legitimate movies which focus so much more clearly on the prestigious and hallowed tradition of graduation. Yes, when it comes right down to it, “The Graduate” doesn’t really have much to do with graduation.

Benjamin Braddock (one of Dustin Hoffman’s first, and arguably best, roles) is newly graduated and at sea about his future when Mrs. Robinson tries to seduce him. The summer is an eventful one, and the film is ideal for graduates not only as entertainment but as a cautionary tale. Do not, repeat, do not sleep with the mother of the woman you fall in love with. Things can get sticky, and the next thing you know you’ll be pounding on the window of a church, which is so totally freshman year.


Billy Madison

Adam Sandler’s first movie after graduating from Saturday Night Live, “Billy Madison” is easily one of the most quotable movies of the ’90s. (Remember shouting ‘Stop looking at me, swan!,’ ‘O’Doyle Rules!,’ ‘Peeing your pants is cool’ when you were 11?) When the movie opens, Billy Madison is living the dream; he is a 27-year-old slacker who lives in his father’s backyard and drinks all day with his similarly-indolent friends. But in order to inherit his father’s hotel chain, or at least prevent his nemesis, the ruthless entrepreneur and old schoolmate, Eric, from taking over, Billy must prove to his father that he is a capable human being and graduate from first through 12th grade in 24 weeks. Billy is happiest in the third grade where he is revered by his classmates and in love with teacher Veronica Vaughn. Yet, Billy soon realizes work, school and life become more difficult as one progresses through school. Eventually, a quiz-bowl type showdown takes place between both Eric and Billy. After Billy compares the Industrial Revolution to “The Puppy Who Lost His Way,” he is told, “Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it.” To win the competition and the hotel, Eric is asked to discuss business ethics. Yet, he is so iniquitous he doesn’t even try to answer, whips out a gun and consequently gets tacked by wrestler and shot by a crazed Steve Buscemi. (Let this be a lesson to all you B-School grads: If you lose all your morals, you will eventually be shot by that guy from Fargo.) And, Chris Farley’s uncredited cameo as the manic middle school bus driver provides the movie with some the most memorable scenes: “That Veronica Vaughn is one fine piece of ace.” By the end of the movie, Billy has decided he is going to go onto college, become a teacher and hand the company over to one of his father’s quality businessmen. Underneath all of the Sandler-esque humor, “Billy Madison” is simply a movie about growing up and accepting responsibility, which are major themes at every graduation.



You know, when you really think about it, and I mean really think about it, “Grease” sells some pretty odd morals, doesn’t it? If you don’t fit in, change yourself, silly. If you don’t use protection, just don’t get pregnant, duh. And if you do get pregnant, just ride on a Ferris wheel and say you didn’t. Life was so simple in the ’50s, wasn’t it?

And yet, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone here who hasn’t once wanted to be the greaser Danny, both in driving skills and hair consistency. And who doesn’t want to waste a summer night at the barbie with Sandra Dee and hopefully catch a glint of what she’s looking for? Sure, I wouldn’t do a lot of the things those Rydell kids got into, but even if I had, you don’t want to hear all the horny details.

Endless allusions aside, there are good things to take away from “Grease.” School spirit runs rampant and so do strong personalities. Rivalries are won and (gasp!) Beauty School is considered. And believe it or not, the best part is when school ends.

Yes, when May rolls around, all the drama seems to melt away. “Grease” gives us a taste of the euphoria at the start, but it doesn’t really blossom until the summer comes around again. They laugh, they cry, they take revealing photos, and they enjoy themselves. Remember that, as you go traveling down life’s highway, from here on out you’re on an endless Wash. U. summer vacation.

Oh, those summer nights.


Summer movie preview: the literal edition

Monday, April 28th, 2008 | Cecilia Razak
Scott Bressler

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Against the express wishes of his crack team of doctors, Harrison Ford once again smashes into the silver screen, reprising his eponymous role in this highly-anticipated new installment of the “Indiana Jones” series. Indie embarks on a mission to obtain a referral from his general practitioner to get an X-ray so he can squeeze onto the appointment book of an osteopathic surgeon. Who will be able to tell him why his skull is so fragile, and can he avoid the terrifying onset of osteoporosis by drinking 10 glasses of milk per day? Find out this summer when Indiana Jones shatters the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and gets slightly ill from too many calcium supplements!

And as for the Spielberg-helmed sequel set to come out in 2010, two action-packed words say it all: malpractice suit!


The gripping tale of a young man’s search for acceptance and camaraderie in the classified pages. Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) thought he was no one until the beautiful and deadly Fox (Angelina Jolie) picked him out of obscurity. “It was his personal ad,” Fox said, “that led me right to him: ‘SWM seeking IHB [incredibly hot babe] who can hang out of car windows and shoot rifles with pin-point precision. Bullet-time camerawork capability a must.’ It just made my heart flutter.” The two get together over a cup of coffee, and before the date is over they’re apartment hunting in the local listings. It’s the exhilarating tale of love in eight-point font, and soon the two love-birds will have their hands full with more than just newsprint ink. Don’t miss the most anticipated newspaper movie of the summer!

Iron Man

In this extremely long-awaited spin-off from “The Wizard of Oz,” the Tin Man finally gets his moment in front of the curtain. He is joined by Robert Downey Jr, who plays Tony Stark, a man with a big heart and an equally big smoking problem that causes him to need a little respiratory help. The two set off on an adventure to free the Tin Man from his tin prison of a body and Stark from his iron prison of a lung. Will the two be able to defeat the wicked witch of the tobacco lobbyists and return home? Will Tony Stark finally kick his habit and emerge from his iron lung a new man, ready to battle the forces of evil and make out with Gwyneth Paltrow without tasting of tar?

With a sound track by Metallica and a rumored cameo by the Iron Giant, “Iron Man” has something for the whole family. And don’t rule out a moving guest appearance by Ian McKellan as metal-manipulator Magneto. It’s all in the thrilling film adaptation of Marvel Comic’s “Iron Man!”

The Dark Knight Returns

Samuel Beckett actually rose from the grave to pen this gripping, introspective meditation on death and reincarnation. “The Dark Knight Returns” features an older, wiser Batman (Christian Bale) who is world-weary and tired of his day-to-day existence saving the citizens of Gotham. After long contemplation of such things as the tread of the bat-mobile’s tires and the inside of his mask, he decides to end it all by waiting for death. After years of silent patience, Batman is finally confronted on a country road by a grinning maniac who tells him he’s waited in vain, then blows up a building.

If you’re a die-hard Batman fan, or a lover of the absurd yet inexplicably weighty, this is the summer block- and brain-buster for you!

Sex and the City

Sarah Jessica Parker and the gang return for this film adaptation of the Beatles’ infamous song “Why don’t we do it in the road?” Parker is the chronically-single Carrie Bradshaw, who, after years of searching, has finally decided to throw caution to the wind and combine the two clauses of the title. Critics and audiences treated to sneak peeks have called it “simply soft-core porn” and noted “this is the hardest I’ve ever seen the asphalt pounded.”

The Incredible Hulk

A documentary feature that follows a team of medical doctors and biologists as they try to medically substantiate the possibility of the existence of the Hulk. It’s not a spoiler to reveal they find him positively incredible. Science and comic geeks alike will get a rush from this fast-paced immersion into the world of laboratory sciences!

Harold and Kumar: the sequel

Friday, April 25th, 2008 | Brian Stitt

Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

Rating: 3/5
Starring: John Cho, Kal Penn, Rob Corddry
Directed by: Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg

There is a separation moment in “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle,” one that divides those who then and there buy into the movie’s silliness from those who simply cannot do so. Anyone who has seen it remembers-it is the moment that the two upper-middle-class stoner heroes climb onto the back of a cheetah in an attempt to ride it to safety. At this point the audience (the ones who aren’t high, at least) must decide whether they will accept the movie’s ridiculous premise and embrace the simple pleasures found in a pot comedy with a brain and a heart.

But from someone who laughed himself to tears when Harold and Kumar’s makeshift Battle Cat took off into the New Jersey foliage, I must say that the characters’ unlikely second outing, “Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay,” doesn’t ever have that moment. But it manages quite a few chuckles and perhaps a belly laugh or two. I’m just not sure that I ever bought it.

“Guantanamo Bay” picks up right where “White Castle” left off. Roommates Harold and Kumar have bought two plane tickets to Amsterdam. They are on a mission to find Harold’s new lady love Maria, and to spend a week in the weed capital of the world. At the airport, they run into Kumar’s ex who is all set to marry a rich, Brooks Brothers-wearing, cushy-government-job-holding jerk. (How come all the coolest girls fall for these guys?) Kumar is visibly shaken, not only by the feelings he still has for this girl but by the realization that he has done nothing with his life in the time since they broke up.

He brushes off his sadness by reminding himself that he is on his way to a vacation visiting his green, memory-depleting lover. In fact, he’s so impatient to get a taste of his favorite herbal remedy that he breaks out a high tech water pipe on the plane. Of course when a passenger sees a brown guy trying to light up a tubular device with flashing lights in the bathroom, his insistence that what he carries is only a bong falls on deaf ears.

They quickly escape from the inept guards at Gitmo and start the long journey to Texas to find Kumar’s ex so that they can use her boyfriend’s connections to get out of their jam.

The humor of Harold and Kumar is built mostly on cultural ignorance and twisted expectations. The pot humor is certainly a part of it, but most of the jokes are about institutional racism, either on the part of the characters or the audience. The original played mostly with stereotypes of Asians, hitting both the Koreans and Indians pretty hard. The second time around the filmmakers are more generous in their whacked form of profiling. The giant black man carrying a crowbar approaching Harold and Kumar’s wrecked car? He’s an orthodontist just trying to help them out. The idiotic law man, played by Rob Corddry, tries to intimidate that same helpful doctor by pouring a grape soda on the ground. A voice in the background asks if he’s got any Kool-Aid.

The problem with Harold and Kumar the second time around is also what holds it together. The writers of the original, who are now writer/directors, have gone beyond the essentially frivolous groundings of the first installment.

Although there were police chases, creepy tow truck drivers and runaway cheetahs in “White Castle,” it was the munchie-fueled call of steamed burgers that drove the two, and nothing more. There was an inherent but underlying humor to the entire proceedings: These guys could have ended their troubles at any point by getting something else to eat, but they soldiered on despite all odds to get their hands on some Slyders.

Now, Harold and Kumar have real problems and the forces that are driving them are no longer hilariously inane. They are real and politically topical. They’ve ruined the moronic antics by adding a message. Not that the first movie was stupid. No, the benefit of “White Castle” was that it was extremely stupid and clever, simultaneously. The inclusion of Neil Patrick Harris as a drugged-out, sex-obsessed version of himself no longer feels as inspired. Why not rummage around in the pop culture lexicon and find us someone else who we forgot to remember?

There’s still a lot of fun to be had with “Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay,” but it’s of a less effortless sort. John Cho and Kal Penn are still just as charming and have shown that they can rise above the typecasting that plagued Cheech and Chong and work as serious actors while retaining enough suburban-stoner cred to pull off another one. Next time, as there certainly will be a next time, let’s hope everyone remembers that broadly ridiculous themes are just as funny as strictly topical ones, and do better on DVD.

In defense of: High School Musical

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008 | Steph Spera

Okay, so I’m not saying “High School Musical” is Oscar-worthy, but, come on Nickelodeon, where was the Kids’ Choice Award? Yes, there are horrendous stereotypes: nerds wear glasses, jocks only own tracksuits and theater kids think they are better than everyone else-well, they did get one right.

Yes, it’s cheesy, and yes, my five-year-old neighbor could have predicted the ending. But remember, it is a Disney movie: You’re obviously not going to get any “Oh my god, Bruce Willis was dead the whole time” moments.

The songs in “High School Musical” are not anything worse than you would hear on Top-40 Radio. “Breaking Free” is comparable to every one of Avril Lavigne’s hits. And, with the Harlem Globetrotters currently in Spain, where else are you going to get your fill of ridiculous basketball tricks?

The dialogue is inadvertently funny. Gabriella, because of her infinite wisdom, is described as an “Einsteinette.” Mrs. Darbus, the drama teacher, thinks basketball is “just young men in baggy shorts flinging balls for touchdowns,” and at one point Troy asks his father, “Dad, did you ever think about trying something new, but are afraid what your friends might think?”

With this last sentiment, “High School Musical” teaches kids it is sometimes better to ask your parents and not the Internet.

Appreciate the irony of “High School Musical”: Middle schools in Maine are now allowed to issue birth control. So relish the fact that Disney is so G (as in rated, not gangsta) that Troy and Gabriella’s big kiss is broken up by Chad at the end of the movie. And Ryan’s sexuality is awkwardly avoided throughout the whole film despite his plethora of sequined shirts and matching hats.

This movie launched the careers of Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens. Efron went on to star in the musical movie “Hairspray,” and he is in the upcoming movie “Seventeen Again” (think the opposite of “Big”). And just imagine: If there were no “High School Musical”, there would be no naked pictures of Vanessa Hudgens plastered all over the Internet-which my guy friends tell me are great. I’ll just take their word for it.

You can learn some great life lessons from this movie: Your real friends should always have your back, sometimes it’s okay to put down your homework and breakdance, and playing the cello and smoking pot do not have to be mutually exclusive.

“High School Musical” also provides you with a great drinking game. Take a shot every time someone says “wildcat.” If this doesn’t kill you, you’ll be so shattered that by the end of the movie you will probably be singing along (and don’t worry if you don’t know the words, Disney Channel usually provides you with the lyrics).

I’m not one to sit down and watch the Disney Channel. A little piece of my soul dies every time I hear Miley “My voice is deeper than my dad’s” Cyrus. But everyone should experience “High School Musical” at least once in their lives, and you can borrow it from me if you’re too embarrassed to add it to your Netflix queue.

‘The Visitor’

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008 | Percy Olsen
Scott Bressler

The Visitor

Rating: 4/5
Starring: Richard Jenkins, Haaz Sleiman, Danai Jekesai Gurira
Directed by: Thomas McCarthy
Release Date: April 18, 2008

At the start of “The Visitor,” we’re introduced to old Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins) as he’s practicing piano with his tutor. She can’t be more than five years older than he is. After she makes an awkward comment on his form (he’s told to arch his fingers so “the train can come through”), he realizes he just might be too old to be treated like a child.

He doesn’t want to act like an adult, though. A man of few words, he’s equally choosy with his activities. As a tenured professor, he’s lightened his teaching schedule to one meaningless course, and he uses his free time to wonder why he doesn’t make better use of his time.

Running parallel to Walter’s life is the tumultuous story of Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) and Zainab (Danai Jekesai Gurira). They’re illegal immigrants and they coincidentally live in Walter’s old New York apartment. Brought to the Big Apple for a conference on Third World countries, Walter walks in on a bathing Zainab. Her reaction is priceless, but Tarek’s is downright frightening, not because he throws Walter against the wall, but because he thinks he has to use force to stay in America.

Why would he want to stay here, anyway? What initially seems like a veiled criticism of our country is merely the seed for a full-blown condemnation of America’s immigration policies. The hypocrisy is widely encompassing, from a clueless New Yorker who doesn’t know there is a difference between Cape Town and Senegal to an immigrant holding facility that houses clueless receptionists and posters celebrating America’s diversity.

Tarek is incarcerated for a non-crime, but he is not demoralized. All of his joy in America comes from his homeland, from playing his African drums. And although Walter isn’t a direct victim of conservative politics, he feels comfortable timidly tapping the Djembe. This is where “The Visitor” shines. Watching Walter rock out on the streets with Tarek-between white-collar paper readings that only boil down to accomplishments in pathos-shows how far away our foreign policies are from actually understanding other cultures.

The rhythm is as infectious as it is enlightening, and both the audience and Walter fall under its spell. While Walter never literally loosens his tie, he does finally develop his own self, along with some happy quirks. True, some of his forays into the life of a drummer aren’t so smooth (like when he jokingly tells Zainab not to worry about him, he’ll “keep his pants on”), but he does embrace the culture he’d never really been able to experience in all those years of studying Third World countries.

Walter may have grown up on his deceased wife’s classical music, but you’ve never seen an old man bob his head with more joy as you’ll see when he hears Tarek play. Richard Jenkins is stellar in showing Walter’s transformation from a reluctant scholar to a budding musician to an enlightened American. If only the movie could have transitioned as seamlessly.

About halfway through, “The Visitor” stops moving. The plot becomes stagnant with Tarek in jail, and the injection of his mother, Mouna (Hiam Abbass), feels like a quick and dirty way to give Walter a bit of romance and to give Zainab more background, both of which were wholly unnecessary. This slow section obviously mirrors the frustratingly tedious process that takes hold once an illegal citizen is thrust into the bureaucratic system, but it could have been introduced much more cleanly.

The ending, however, completely makes up for the previous 30 minutes of film. When you look at Walter and Tarek, you see that the supposedly easiest things to come by are actually the hardest to get. After it’s all said and done, we’re left with open-ended thoughts and undefined moral systems, a primal mix of doing the right thing and obeying the law.

George Clinton Essential Play List

Monday, April 21st, 2008 | Andrew Senter

George Clinton has put out dozens of funk-tastic jams throughout his career, but some tower above the others as absolute classics of P-Funk. Here’s a list of some classics you should know for Friday’s concert, lest you face total embarrassment in your ignorance.

Give up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)

Flash Light

Up for the Downstoke

Atomic Dog

Bop Gun (Endangered Species)

Maggot Brain

Cosmic Slop

Who Says A Funk Band Can’t Play Rock?!


The Motor-Booty Affair

Top Ten Funkiest Titles

Monday, April 21st, 2008 | Andrew Senter

Some of these songs and albums are fabulously funky, and some don’t quite hit the mark, but each is an interstellar example of a wonderfully-whacked P-Funk title.

The Electrospanking of War Babies

Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop)

Hey Man, Smell My Finger

Do Fries Go With That Shake?

The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein

Free Your Mind.And Your Ass Will Follow

If Anybody Gets Funked up (It’s Gonna Be You)

U.S. Custom Goast Guard Dope Dog

If It Don’t Fit (Don’t Force It)

Getting wild with George Clinton

Monday, April 21st, 2008 | Andrew Senter

The unforgetable chant “Bow-Wow-Wow Yippie-Yo-Yippie-Yay” have graced the mainstream music scene for the last 15 years. Whenever one thinks of the laid-back rap style (and other habits) of Snoop Doggy Dog, these words are often the first that come to mind. But Snoop Dogg’s signature song is not exactly unique. It is one of more than 25 songs that samples from George Clinton’s “Atomic Dog,” a 1982 funk masterpiece that has been used by, among others, Dr. Dre, Ice-T, Ice Cube, Public Enemy, Redman and 2Pac.

The deep funk, better known as P-Funk, pioneered by George Clinton and his various bands, has made him the second most-sampled artist in hip-hop after James Brown. His songs stand on their own as some of the best funk ever produced; his live concerts are freewheeling and extravagant. And this weekend George Clinton and the Parliament-Funkadelic are coming to W.I.L.D. to showcase their greasy and grooving funk.

The saga that is George Clinton began on July 22, 1942 in Kannapolis, N.C. But his musical interests began forming when he was living in New Jersey as a youngster. Clinton originally formed “The Parliaments” as a doo-wop group. They even had a small hit in 1967 with “I Want to Testify.” Then, because of arguments with the record label, George Clinton formed “Funkadelic” which became the main outlet for his musical experimentation. The band released seminal rock albums like “Maggot Brain” and “Free Your Mind.And Your Ass Will Follow.”

Keyboardist Bernie Worrell began playing with Funkadelic in the early 1970s. He soon became one of the most essential components of Funkadelic. Working with George Clinton, they developed the trademark synthesizers and well-orchestrated horn parts of P-Funk sound. Two years after the addition of Bernie Worrell, Bootsy Collins joined Funkadelic. Collins was famous for playing bass with James Brown, and his contributions were essential to Clinton’s ensembles during the ’70s.

Between 1970 and 1974 Funkadelic released five albums including “Cosmic Slop” and “America Eats Its Young.” In 1974 Clinton decided to reform Parliament, which would develop a more mainstream sound. Between 1974 and 1980 Parliament released a slew of albums, definitive examples of the slow, hard-grooving funk for which Clinton is still famous. Albums such as “Mothership Connection,” “Clone of Dr. Funkenstein” and “Moter Booty Affair” have been so consistently sampled by rap-artists that many tunes have become ubiquitous without ever charting as singles. Parliament excelled at producing albums that worked as a single unit and some of their best songs were more than six or seven minutes long, which made them untenable as singles.

Fortunately, Clinton was not content with having Parliament as his only musical outlet. Even though Parliament was producing the more mainstream music that helped him achieve widespread fame, Clinton had not abandoned Funkadelic. The band continued to release albums throughout the 1970s, focusing on less-mainstream funk-rock. They hit their musical peak in the late 1970s, releasing one of the most cohesive and powerful albums of Clinton’s career: “One Nation Under A Groove.” Its powerful funk lines and refusal to conform to the standard notions of funk hit a chord with the American public. It was Clinton’s first album to go platinum and is considered to be a masterpiece of Funk.

Unfortunately, the momentum that was sustained by both Parliament and Funkadelic began to unravel in the early 1980s. Clinton dissolved the Parliament collective in 1980 and Funkadelic recorded its last album in 1984. This did not stop Clinton’s momentum, at least initially. One of his first solo albums, 1982’s “Computer Games” was a huge success. In particular, the song “Atomic Dog,” which featured drum machines and synth lines, helped propel the album into a permanent place in the funk lexicon.

By the mid 1980s Clinton had reunited with many of his former band-mates and began to tour and record as “George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars” (which would eventually evolve into “George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic,” which is the incarnation of the band that is playing at W.I.L.D.).

After “Computer Games,” Clinton’s popularity waned for most of the 1980s. Few of his records made the R&B charts, and he produced little material that was considered noteworthy. It was not until the early 1990s that Clinton began to regain his stature as one of the pioneers of funk. This led to the resurgence in his popularity that still exists today.

Clinton’s second rise in popularity grew from the fact that P-Funk became the basis for a new rap style called G-Funk. Developed by Dr. Dre during the 1990s, G-Funk uses the slow, hard beats from P-Funk. Dr. Dre’s first solo album “The Chronic” is, in essence, a collection of slower, rap-fueled Parliament and Funkadelic samples. The album was a massive success and reintroduced the public to the grooves of George Clinton. Many of Dr. Dre’s disciples, who used his Parliament-based G-Funk, include Snoop Dogg, Warren G, Nate Dogg and Tha Dogg Pound. These artists helped the music of George Clinton reach millions of Americans throughout the 1990s. Hip-hop’s greatest artists pay homage to Clinton by sampling his songs and have earned his music, if not success, then at least recognition with a new generation of listeners.

The saga of George Clinton will continue Friday night on Brookings Quad, where his band is the headliner of W.I.L.D. They play wild and uncontainable live shows that leave audience members mesmerized.