The legendary second album (1970) from Funkadelic. This album's title track is the sort of spaced-out acid-funk that is a big influence with artists such as Spiritualized and Primal Scream.
A wild ride of an album, essential to any collection.
David Bederman | Potomac, MD United States | 03/27/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"1971 was a very important year for Funkadelic, the year that they recorded their earliest masterpiece albums: "Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow" and "Maggot Brain"."Free Your Mind" stands out as one of the most psychadelic albums known to man, a nonstop freakout festival that you'd swear was a bad trip. Many bands suffer from "Sophomore Syndrome", producing a mediocre second album: Funkadelic avoided this mishap and produced a masterpiece that improved on its first album.Naturally, with this album's title, it makes perfect sense that the album was recorded entirely while the band was tripping on acid (George Clinton's idea). A very experimental record, "Free Your Mind" was FAR ahead of its time, using immense amounts of feedback and electric effects. What the title means is subject to MUCH interpretation, but I prefer the concept that by opening yourself up to new ideas (in this case wild, funky music) you will reap the benefits. Funkadelic in this case meant dancing (with this album, moreso moshing) like there was no tomorrow.Many complain that this album has a very rough, harsh sound to it; this actually is the point of the experimentation, to see what extreme feedback could do for the band's sounds. Needless to say, the feedback was a complete success, producing some sublime works of music.At the opening track (the album's namesake), the intense trip begins. Bursts of feedback and "warm-up" guitar and keyboard riffs sound as George Clinton mutters "Free your mind and your ass will follow...the kingdom of heaven is within." For two whole minutes strange comments such as these are made, before suddenly Eddie Hazel's WICKED guitar jumps into action and catapults the band into an awesome bridge. Accompanying Hazel is Bernie Worrell, the band's keyboard wizard, who uses his keyboard (also laden with feedback) to create numerous psychadelic sounds. Then, Worrell begins to play the amazing core of this jam, indicating that the trip is in FULL FORCE. To be honest, the effect of this song is indescribably cool. It's a 10-minute jam that doesn't end, and is DEFINITELY worth the entire album. All the instruments are perfectly aligned, with a driving bassline holding the jam together. It's like a modern classical symphony (in acid), so complex and intricate that it has yet to get old for me. Worrell and Hazel give up numerous incredible solos on their instruments. And the song is perfectly engineered to shift from one speaker to another each few seconds, which actually makes your head feel a little funny. This song, as said by another reviewer, was a definite reason to have stereo sound in the 1970s.Needless to say, "Free Your Mind" isn't the only awesome song on the album. Immediately following it is "Friday Night, August the 14th". This song picks up after "Free Your Mind" with more psychadelia, this time using echoing drums and wahwah guitars. More masterwork from Eddie Hazel; need I say more?Next on the album is "Funky Dollar Bill," the third standout from the album. A brilliantly-written piece about what money does to America, this song features more psychadelic instrumentation (what a shock), another killer guitar riff, and an amazing keyboard solo by Bernie Worrell in the middle. This album is definitely the playground for Hazel and Worrell, showing off their skills as a two-man team of musical geniuses that would work brilliantly in concert.The fourth track, "I Wanna Know If It's Good To You Baby", is another track for Hazel to show off on. This time driving the song by himself, Hazel plays an amazing guitar riff that jumps into a frightening feedback-driven solo. The echoing effects of the guitar (is it a delay, I wonder) are intensely psychadelic.Sadly, the album's near-perfection is marred by mediocrity: a song that simply does NOT fit, "Some More", is the 5th track. This song, a much more upbeat and non-psychadelic one, is clearly filler material. It does not belong on an album all about finding a new perspective on things.The final track of the album, "Eulogy and Light", is the early Funkadelic trademark: a song designed to freak out whoever ever listens to it. Featuring Christian prayers playing backwards, the feedback-driven song is spoken by a slowed-down voice that prays to "our father who art on Wall Street." Another political message from George that comes across perfectly.A jam session with some of the most talented musicians of the early 70s, "Free Your Mind..." in its totality is worth almost every minute. Buy it now, and hope that Westbound remasters it to take FULL advantage of the record's amazing instrumentation and stereo."
Vary underappreciated funk & rock explosion!
Kevin Currie-Knight | Newark, Delaware | 12/03/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As a long time fan of the funk, I have to say that this albun is a refreshingly strong staple. Through the years, funk became cursed with a cartoonish image (ironically, due in large part to parliament). This album has none of it. It IS dirty, grungy and sweaty. It IS loud and in a sense, obnoxious and the sound quality IS muddy. But future funkadelic groovers need to recognize that all of that IS deliberate! This was one of Funkadelic's first albums and it was deliberately recorded in one day during one acid trip. The title track, then, with it's synth-driven ambiance, is absolutely appropriate and trust me; it has an edge that rivals a razor blade. The rest of the album is no less edgy. It grabs you by the a$$ and, like the title suggests, you WILL follow. With that established, the album is regrettably short, which left me no choice but to subtract a star. Still, the full list price of the CD will be recompensed by two tracks alone: 'Funky Dollar Bill' and 'I Wanna Know if It's Good' which has the coolest lyric and guitar riff that I think Clinton's crew ever came up with. Get the album, even if it's only for these two tracks. It'll be worth it."
Insane psychedelic Hendrix-funk-rock from the Masters
the18yroldmusiccritic | Michigan | 10/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Early Funkadelic released some seriously brilliant and completely wigged-out albums, and this very well may be the craziest of them all. It's also the second-best of the mighty early Westbound triumvirate (Funkadelic, Free Your Mind, the astounding Maggot Brain). The later Westbound comp "Music For Your Mother" is also fantastic, featuring a lot of the songs on these albums in far superior mixes.
The CD remastering - for the American version of the CD - is awful, which is practically a crime and saps much of the power out of a glorious acid-funk masterpiece. Unforgivable? Yes. But this doesn't hold true for all issues of the album. My advice is simple. Get The British Version Of This Album. It sounds amazing. Granted, the production and mixing themselves still get in the way, because, like the music, they too were done on acid, but at least with the British version it doesn't sound flatter than a waffle. Instead, it sounds full-bodied and even warm on some of the songs.
The first track, "Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow," is tripped out into regions beyond. Certainly, these were intergalactic Funkateers not of this planet. Are those synth noises at the beginning, or are they just processed feedback? I don't know, but whatever it is, it's brilliant. Then the groove comes in - Tiki Fulwood, possibly the best drummer Funkadelic ever had, comes in with an implacable and totally funky drum entrance, spurring them all into the acid-freakout-funk jam. The screams and LSD-fueled chants are drugged Detroit soul of the purest form, and Eddie Hazel's searing, unutterably awesome and wholly, terrifyingly Hendrix-like guitar work rips out of the speakers, competing with Bernie Worrell's fuzzed-out quasi-classical Hammond organ for dominance. This continues for the rest of the 10 minutes. "Friday Night, August 14th" follows with a bluesy acid-funk shuffle, with more brilliant and radical guitarin' from the Eddie Hazel-Tawl Ross guitar tag team. Fulwood's semi-drum-solo, fed through abusive amounts of analog echo and delay, caps a great song. "Funky Dollar Bill" would be great, but there is a problem. It's all fantastic - the rhythm guitar is unbelievable, the lead bluesy and paint-strippingly loud - but the Worrell jangle-piano part is terrible, I'm sorry to say. It's a painfully obvious overdub, and it's badly out-of-tune and nearly out-of-rhythm; it ruins the song for me, sadly. All is forgiven with THE JAM OF ALL TIME, "I Wanna Know If It's Good To You." The vocal part is amazing, but the instrumental jam afterwards is what really rips me to shreds. That guitar soloing is simply on a plane beyond what most soloists could even think of reaching - the best feedback entrance ever. Ever. Signed, sealed, and delivered. It's also sweet as hell when it all quiets down, Fulwood starts hitting the cowbells in totally funky rhythm (More Cowbell!!!), suddenly the mix turns better, and Billy "Bass" Nelson's astoundingly funky bass playing becomes audible - those trills alone could make you dance like a funky fool. "Some More" comes after that, and predictably can't really compare, as it's a jokey blues song, but it's fun enough - the vocal effects are great, and it's better than "Back In Our Minds" on "Maggot Brain." "Eulogy and Light" is really freaky, and ends the album with a slowed-down and massively reverbed Clinton monologue from the view of a pimp (I guess; I'm not sure, really) showing worship to the God "Big Buck" over a really scary backwards tape; the music is from an old 1969 B-side, "Open Our Eyes," which is God-praising gospel so uncut, so heartfelt, so, well, soulful that it seems like a near-perversion of religion to use it backwards for this terrifying rant, which ends with the tape being sped up as Clinton screams "Is Truth the Light?!?!?!??!!!," showing the pimp's figurative, Divine punishment. A brilliant move on Clinton's part, "Eulogy and Light" ends the album.
Such a brilliant album, even though it's painfully short at 31 minutes, deserves to be heard by everybody. Get the British version, turn "I Wanna Know If It's Good To You" up and feel the light sear your senses. I love Funkadelic."
An amazing record makes a poor CD
Aaron K. Hostetter | Longmont, CO United States | 06/15/2001
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Funkadelic's Free Your Mind... is a landmark of American music -- and is an album which George Clinton says they recorded in a single afternoon. Some of this shows in the rough edges, but that's part of its charm and genius. Unfortunately, the mastering on this CD version is terrible and you'll find yourself listening to long stretches where no sound is coming out of your speakers. Until Westbound issues digitally remastered versions of the Funkadelic catalogue, buy the record."
A black rock/noise masterpiece
Aaron K. Hostetter | 08/25/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Don't listen to the complaints about the sound quality on this one. This is not one of the later, more commercial Funkadelic records. The album sounds exactly as it is supposed to. If you are into the more experimental side of rock and you like lps like the Velvet Underground's "White Light, White Heat," you'll find this album a solid masterpiece in the same vein. It has the same experimental noise-rock vibes and dark humor, but a blacker take on the issues. It ranges from trippy, raw funk rock on the title track to some other things that are pretty dark and scary, like "Eulogy and Light." Eddie Hazel shines throughout, as do Bernie Worrell and Billy Bass Nelson. The sound is that of a group of black rockers who tripped out on ..., but instead of going to a muddy field in upstate New York, went straight to the roughest 'hoods in America - Detroit, Newark. That's really the best way to describe the experience of listening to this one. It is a rock classic AND a black rock classic and it is a regular on my cd player.The title sums of the experience perfectly."