Artist: Fuzzy Haskins
Formats: CD, MP3
Release date: April 7, 2017
Ace Records has released the compilation I Got My Thang Together: The Westbound Years celebrating the music of one Clarence “Fuzzy” Haskins. Who’s Fuzzy Haskins, you ask? Well, if you are even a casual fan of Parliament-Funkadelic, chances are you are already familiar with his brand of earthy, heavyweight funk (“Put Up Your Dukes”). Although amongst most popular culture George Clinton and Bootsy Collins are seen as the brand ambassadors for the P-Funk Mob, there were many, many players who made both bands what they were. Some of these players were even given their own chance to shine on various side projects that sprung up during the height of their popularity.
After growing up on Parliament (my Dad’s record collection is the core of my own collection), I was still amazed at how much material was out there to be discovered. During my personal “deep dive” into the Parliament-Funkadelic catalog, I came across A Whole Nother Thang and Radio Active, the aforementioned Fuzzy Haskins albums from 1976 and 1978 respectively. As with many of the side releases from P-Funk, Haskins is backed by other members of the band including Billy “Bass” Nelson, Tiki Fulwood, Bootsy Collins, Cordell “Boogie” Mosson and Bernie Worrell. Since the lion’s share of this compilation was pulled from these two albums, it definitely has a very familiar feel.
Haskins’ history with Parliament goes back to its very origins as part of the doo wop group known as “The Parliaments”—the original group that would later birth Funkadelic and Parliament. Haskins is credited with writing several songs on the early P-Funk records, but by the mid-1970s he was feeling a little disconnected (pun intended) from the Mothership and began stashing songs away for what would become his debut solo album: A Whole Nother Thang on Westbound Records (the label behind the first few Funkadelic releases). The most famous track from this first outing was “Cookie Jar.” The song has a great groove and was later covered with great results by P-Funk’s female group, Parlet. The version included on this compilation is not from the album, but an alternate that’s arguably better based solely off the hilarious conversational intro by Haskins. Another highlight is “Mr. Junk Man,” a funky lament for those addicted to drugs, and “The Fuz and Da Boog” which features Haskins on drums and Cordell Masson on bass.
This compilation also features tracks from Haskins’ second Westbound release, Radio Active, including the tracks “Sinderella” and “Not Yet,” which feature Haskins basking in his carnal desires. It is tracks like these that eventually stalled Radio Active from getting a solid push from the label. By this time Haskins had become disenfranchised with the P-Funk Mob and turned his life over to religion. Not wanting to sing “nasty” songs he was equally unenthusiastic about the record upon its completion. In the years since, Haskins has reunited with Parliament-Funkadelic on several occasions and was inducted with them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.
I Got My Thang Together serves as a great introduction to Fuzzy Haskins’ solo work and fits right in with many of the other great P-Funk side projects. If you are a hardcore Funkateer, this one’s for you.
Reviewed by Levon Williams