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The Parliaments

(I Wanna) Testify

The Parliaments

(I Wanna) Testify


Long before he explored the outermost boundaries of funk with his psychedelically inclined Parliament-Funkadelic organization, George Clinton was happening. When he wasn't straightening hair in a Jersey barber shop, he was doo-wopping in the backroom with his group, The Parliaments, named after a brand of cigarettes.

Clinton, born July 22, 1941 in Kannapolis, North Carolina, but raised in Plainfield, New Jersey, assembled the first edition of The Parliaments in 1955. The group debuted on wax in June of 1959 with Poor Willie on the APT label and came back soon thereafter with Lonely Island on the local Flipp logo. Clinton subsequently teamed with Sidney Barnes to write for Motown through its short-lived New York office. The Parliaments coalesced around Clinton, Ray Davis, Clarence 'Fuzzy' Haskins, Calvin Simon, and Grady Thomas and signed with Motown in '64, though they never had a release. Clinton and Barnes would write and produce records for Big Ed Wingate's Ric-Tic and Golden World imprints (Motown's chief local mid-'60s rivals), including Pat Lewis' Can't Shake It Loose and Theresa Lindsey's I'll Bet You. The Parliaments also had their own 1966 Golden World single, Heart Trouble.

Only Clinton actually sang on (I Wanna) Testify, done for Detroit deejay LeBaron Taylor's Revilot label. The rest of The Parliaments couldn't afford to travel to the Motor City for the date and were replaced in the studio by The Holidays, formerly on Golden World. Testify peaked at #3 R&B and #20 pop (Johnnie Taylor's '69 Stax revival was even bigger), and their Revilot follow-up All Your Goodies Are Gone also charted (Simon was drafted and sent to Vietnam somewhere along here).

A New Day Begins, The Parliaments' sixth and final Revilot single, found its way onto the R&B charts in 1969 after being leased to Atco (it was Revilot's swan song). Legal entanglements precluded The Parliaments from recording for a bit, but their backing band, Funkadelic, was under no such restrictions, so they signed with Armen Boladian's Westbound label and made their '69 debut. The entire outfit dispensed with the era's shiny matching suits, dressing onstage in outrageous attire. When the vocal contingent resolved its legal problems, they got with Holland-Dozier-Holland's Invictus logo as Parliament, recasting themselves in a psychedelic soul bag. Neither funk nor rock would ever recover from the mighty P-Funk invasion.


- Bill Dahl -

Various - Sweet Soul Music

Various - Sweet Soul Music 30 Scorching Classics From 1967

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