Somehow, this legendary concert — one of the few professionally filmed documents of the Mothership at its mightiest — looks like nothing less than a drug-soaked funky freak show. That’s despite the quarter-million dollars in production costs, one of the world’s leading production designers guiding the proceedings, seven trucks worth of gear, weeks of rehearsals, and massive promotions. When you get down to it, the whole point of all that money, all those trucks, and all those rehearsals just might have been to make it look like nothing more than a drug-soaked weekend.
From the grandiose landing of the Mothership — and George Clinton’s messianic emergence from it — it’s abundantly clear that the P-Funk Earth Tour was intended to be the definitive live statement of the Parliament-Funkadelic collective. After years of struggle and strife, P-Funk’s crew finally had a couple of hits under their belt, and they were ready to bring the madness to unsuspecting arena crowds across the country. Watching now, it’s hilarious to think about all the unsuspecting folks who showed up to get their disco on to “Tear the Roof off the Sucker” and, instead, got a fantastical foray into the warped Funkadelic fire. Blistering guitar solos, meandering jams, call-and-response nastiness, Gary Shider in platforms and diapers… all of it was there. By the time Clinton brings out members of Bootsy’s Rubber Band and Sly & the Family Stone for a frenzied run through of “Night of the Thumpasorus Peoples,” you were either dancing your ass off or had left in disgust.
Although this concert has been released before, this latest version doesn’t (couldn’t?) offer much in the way of visual upgrade. The live-on-videotape quality may be a strain for HD-attuned eyes, but thankfully, a well-mixed 5.1 surround soundtrack has been tacked on, providing for a more immersive experience.