By Mark McIntyre (Host of Everything Is Weird, Saturday 1:00-2:30pm)
Funkadelic’s 1972 album, America Eats Its Young, their fourth, is often overshadowed by far freakier albums like Maggot Brain or Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow. While those earlier albums are chalk full of lysergic acid drenched rockers and other wackiness, America Eats Its Young offers something else entirely: well produced rock, funk, and soul party tunes wrapped in a blanket of vague political anger and humour. The double album’s themes are expansive and run the gamut from human existence, lust, and power to junkies, mother nature, and sex while introducing some major players to the P-Funk universe, most notably Bootsy Collins. Further, the album’s artwork is brilliant: a gatefold cover that shows a crisp greenback with the Statue of Liberty, replete with fangs, chowing down on an armload of babies. Yes!
I bought this album on Boxing Day in Ottawa many years ago, after Santa failed to bring me any decent wax. However, I didn’t set out to buy it. Already owning the first three LPs and believing that I had all that I needed from Funkadelic, I was hoping to expand my headband with some heavy funk from George Clinton’s other main group, Parliament. Flipping through the bins, my hands grabbed onto The Clones Of Dr. Funkenstein. After one look at the insane jacket, I was sold. But the storeowner wouldn’t sell it to me. He looked at me and said “No! That’s disco man! All that shit on Casablanca sucks! That’s the same label Kiss is on, jeezuz!” An image of Gene Simmons flashed across my brain. Oh! Horrified, I stuck it back in the bin, made my way to the F’s, and pulled out America Eats Its Young. “Now that shit is killer!” The owner approved. Success! I brought it home and dug it pretty hard, spinning it four or five times in a row. The music came from everywhere: rock, country, blues, soul, R&B, you name it. I thought “Wow! This is American music!” As many record dorks do when they like a record, I made a cassette dub of it and moved on.
That was a particularly hard Ottawa winter. It was dark days and so I spent a lot of time walking around the city. My walking companions were a cassette Walkman and a backpack of dubbed cassettes. The day that my dub of America Eats Its Young finally made its way into the Walkman the album totally hit the nail on the head and it clicked in my brain. I no longer walked the icy streets: I grooved. This was it. Boring frozen Fat Cat City, where the sidewalks rolled up at 9 pm, seemed to have a new swagger, or at least I did.
All these years later, in my Victoria living room, the album still does it for me and America still eats its young.