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Album Review

Toys features about 50 minutes of previously unreleased Funkadelic tracks from the early '70s, about evenly divided between proper songs and jams. The availability of such a large chunk of recordings in excellent sound quality from their prime might seem like a huge blessing for their devoted fans, but while in general it is of considerable interest for Funkadelic fanatics, more casual funk listeners should be wary of this on several accounts. First, much of this material sounds on the unfinished side, even on some of the cuts with vocals. One track, "Wars of Armageddon" [Karaoke Version], is a little on the marginal side even for major P-Funk fans, as it's a "previously unissued under-dub." Overall, it's a little like getting a very high-quality bootleg of works in progress, though it can be fairly pointed out that even some actual Funkadelic albums had songs that sometimes sounded like works in progress. But if you are the sort of fan who likes to peek into the hidden underbelly of a major band's foundation, the CD has its merits. Chief among these are the significantly different versions of "You Can't Miss What You Can't Measure" (here titled "Heart Trouble") and "The Goose" (here under its original title, "The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg"), though the aforementioned "Wars of Armageddon" differs from its official release only in the absence of sound effects. Otherwise, the tracks tend toward drifting jams that are more notable for the funk-psychedelic playing than the songs themselves. Even one of the cuts with vocals, "Talk About Jesus," has few lyrics other than a few female singers intoning the title over and over; another, the brief "2 Dollars & 2 Dimes," has nothing in the way of a vocal other than George Clinton uttering a few typically wacky proclamations. Also on the CD is a 1973 video clip (playable on PC or Mac computers) of the band, in typically odd and flamboyant costume, romping around New York to "Cosmic Slop."


Formed: 1968

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '10s

Though they often took a back seat to their sister group Parliament, Funkadelic furthered the notions of black rock begun by Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone, blending elements of '60s psychedelia and blues plus the deep groove of soul and funk. The band pursued album statements of social/political commentary while Parliament stayed in the funk singles format, but Funkadelic nevertheless paralleled the more commercial group's success, especially in the late '70s when the interplay between bands moved the...
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