“Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker)” by Parliament (1976)

Sometimes, the “keep it simple, stupid” theory works. It’s a theory George Clinton learned well as the Seventies progressed and his Parliament/Funkadelic machine began to gain more and more commercial traction.

“Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker)” became the outfit’s first top five R&B single, largely based on the fact that it was a series of slogans. “We want the funk! Gotta have the funk! Gonna turn this motha out!” It wasn’t lyrically dense by any stretch of the imagination (especially when compared to some of the more “out there” P-Funk sides of the early ’70s), but it was easy to sing along with, and it made people dance. It became an anthem. Artists from Lil Jon to (name that ’90s Euro dance act) has ridden this same formula to success, although most of these acts are not as musically proficient (and nowhere near as funky) as Parliament.

My first exposure to this song was not only titillating (the word “sucker” was very much a dirty word when I was a tot, so imagine my confusion when I moved to the midwest where “sucker” is a synonym for “lollipop”), but it was mind-melting. My folks had a 45 with this song and “P-Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up)” as the flip. It was my first real exposure to the zany world of George Clinton and remains one of my favorite A side-B side single combos.

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