One could call Computer Games George Clinton’s first solo album, but it’s really more like the latest chapter in the continuing saga of Parliament-Funkadelic, the musical conglomerate that Clinton has led for more than a decade. Most of the P-Funk crew plays on the LP, and just as recent releases have blurred the distinction between Parliament (the horn band) and Funkadelic (the guitar band), Computer Games mixes the funky with the fanciful.
“Get Dressed,” a heavy bass riff about life as an opening act, was written with Bootsy Collins and introduces the heavy funk of side one. “Man’s Best Friend” and the thumping “Atomic Dog,” both composed with P-Funk singer-guitarist Garry Shider, concoct a typically kooky conceit of man as canine (or vice versa). The LP’s big beast, however, is “Loopzilla,” Clinton’s funkified “Stars on 45.” Establishing a “living radio” motif with plugs for major black radio stations, Clinton weaves Motown (including “I Can’t Help Myself” and “Dancing in the Streets”), funk-rap (“Planet Rock”) and P-Funk (“One Nation under a Groove”) into a hand-clapping jam. Though a hip addition to any party tape, “Loopzilla” ultimately underscores the fact that this album lacks a real monster jam of its own.
It’s left to Junie Morrison, the king of kiddie funk, to pull the baby out of the fire with his collaboration on “Computer Games” and two goofball originals. “Pot Sharing Tot,” in which two tykes disregard grown-up conventions, finds Clinton giggling his way through a bouncy, horn-spiced melody. Better still is “One Fun at a Time,” which offers trickle-down merriment with its pop melody, squiggly synthesizer and bouncing bass. Computer Games is not on-the-one with premium P-Funk, but for a nation hungry for grooves, it’s a tasty side dish while awaiting the return of the mothership.