100 Best Albums of the Eighties

From synth pop and rap to metal and funk, 100 best albums of the Eighties selected by the editors of Rolling Stone

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George Clinton, 'Computer Games'

59. George Clinton, 'Computer Games'

"I was having fun on that album," George Clinton says of Computer Games, which contains blueprints for all the tangents funk and rhythm & blues would take in the Eighties. With a cosmic giggle, Clinton co-opted the new technology — sequencers, samples, remixing, looping and scratching. In addition to reestablishing Clinton early in the new decade, Computer Games netted him a comeback hit in "Atomic Dog," a funky ode to man's best friend filled with canine woofing and all sorts of rhythmic trickery that has since been sampled on numerous rap and hip-hop records.

Throughout his four decades in music, Clinton's sales figures have never been a true measure of his influence. In the Seventies he forged a white-rock-black-funk synthesis with the bands Parliament and Funkadelic, much as Sly Stone and Jimi Hendrix had done in the Sixties. Parliament featured horns and was closer to soul, while Funkadelic emphasized guitars and was closer to rock. There were many offshoot projects as well, with Clinton juggling roles as master conceptualist.

In 1981, however, an overworked Clinton put P-Funk on hold and took time off to straighten out personal and legal business. Almost two years later, Computer Games announced his return. Clinton worked especially hard on the album to prove that "I still had my brain together," he says. "The minute you get real drunk or wrecked, the first thing you think is 'Oh, Lord, if you let me out of this one, I won't do it no more.' Mine is, I have to be able to cut a record; that's the only thing that will let me know I didn't fuck up. I just had to find that out for myself, and I think I was all right,"

In truth, Clinton was often brilliant, giving an Eighties face lift to funk on "Atomic Dog" and looping up a storm on the wild collage of old and new soul songs titled "Loopzilla." "Atomic Dog," which neither Clinton nor the record company viewed as commercial, was a sizable hit. In fact, says Clinton, "'Atomic Dog' wouldn't get out of the way for any other single off that album." Six years later it remains so popular that Clinton cut another "dog" song — "Why Should I Dog U Out?" — for his latest album, The Cinderella Theory. "I figured, 'Let's give 'em some more dog; let's start right off doggin' 'em again,' "Clinton says, laughing. "I thought they had enough of 'Atomic Dog,' but they didn't, so here's some more. With fleas and ticks."

Rolling Stone's Original 1983 Review

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