Take You Higher – The Clinton Administration
Magnatude Records 2303-2
A loose congress of jazz-funk regulars, the Clinton Administration doesn’t need to prove its chops. Instead, Take You Higher is a test of interpretation.
Originally assembled for a one-off George Clinton homage, this quirky super group spent its first album revisiting Parliament-Funkadelic’s catalogue. Crafting a series of unique instrumental scores, the Clinton Administration received considerable praise for their loose-limped workouts, which brought songs like "One Nation Under Groove" and "Give up the Funk" into a more modern context. With Robert Walters and DJ Logic among the Clinton Administration’s original lineup, One Nation Under a Re-Groove’s jazzy styling shined particularly bright. Also featuring veterans like James Brown’s Clyde Stubblefield and Curtis Mayfield’s Phil Upchurch, the Clinton Administration placed one foot firmly in funk’s past, bolstering One Nation Under a Re-Groove with a sense of weathered authenticity. Given their mix and match lineup, the Clinton Administration did an admiral job resetting Clinton’s baroque anthems in a slinkier jazz-funk context, while also keeping P-Funk’s patented groove in place. A fun, novel listen, One Nation Under a Re-Groove played out like a spicy DJ remix, ultimately proving that Clinton’s canon has a timeless, danceable appeal.
Taking a stab at Sly and the Family Stone, the Clinton Administration chose an equally deserving candidate to cover on their second release. With only Walters and percussionist Chuck Prada returning from One Nation, the Clinton Administration moniker refers more to a style of interpretation than a precise voice. With Stubblefield and Upchurch out of the picture, Walters further modernizes his musicians, giving Take You Higher a clear, present sound. Like its predecessor, Take You Higher is tight, keyboard driven jazz-funk, comprised completely of instrumental jams built around classic funk anthems. Also like One Nation, Take You Higher boasts a buzz worthy lineup, including Stanton Moore, Particle’s Charlie Hitchcock and jazz-jammers Garaj Mahal. Never venturing too far from their comfort zone, each all-star keeps their playing style pretty much intact, placing subtle, but recognizable, solo bows on well known numbers like ‘Hot Fun in the Summertime.’
In certain ways, the Clinton Administration picked riper source material for their second term. While P-Funk is an obvious launch pad for any funk jam-session, Sly and the Family Stone have drifted somewhat from the spotlight in recent years. Lacking the tight, jazzy underbelly of New Orleans acts like the Meters, or the raw brute force of P-Funk, Sly Stone isn’t common source material for the modern crop of jam musicians, but shares more natural roots. Bred during the Summer of Love, Sly and the Family Stone mixed hippie-rock anthems with their red-hot funk, making the ensemble an excellent choice for the Clinton Administration to cover.
Accenting the soul and psychedelia that symbolized early 1970s Sly Stone, The Clinton Administration successfully wrap their fingers around Stone’s songs groovy, well-composed cuts. A glorious keyboard solo rips through "I Want to Take You Higher" and "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" is layered with intense, bouncy percussion. Though Take You Higher has the ability to fall into familiar jazz-funk grooves, Walter’s greatest skill is his ability to weave Stone’s melodies into his group’s jazz-party jams. Like illicit mall-muzak, Take You Higher is full of easily humible melodies, often familiar, but, in actuality, a truly different beast.