On this day in music history: December 5, 1980…

On this day in music history: December 5, 1980 – “Trombipulation”, the ninth studio album (tenth overall) by Parliament is released. Produced by George Clinton, William “Bootsy” Collins, Ron Dunbar and Ron Ford, it is recorded at United Sound Studios and Super Disc, Inc. in Detroit, MI, The Power Station and Sigma Sound Studios in New York City from Late 1979 – Mid 1980. After more than a decade, it is clear that the mothership is rapidly running out of gas at the turn of the decade. In spite of achieving major success during the 70’s, the P-Funk Thang is dogged by various legal issues and disputes over money. Numerous key members including Fuzzy Haskins, Calvin Simon, Grady Thomas, Eddie Hazel, Jerome “Bigfoot” Brailey, Glenn Goins, DeWayne “Blackbird” McKnight and Walter “Junie” Morrison have all left. Adding to the chaos, Casablanca Records is in also flux as their greatest ally, founder Neil Bogart is ousted from the company for his reckless spending and management. With Clinton still at the helm, he comes to rely more on Bootsy Collins who plays nearly all of the instruments on several tracks. Ron Dunbar and Ron Ford also co-write songs and co-produce. Musically, “Trombipulation” breaks no new ground, feeling in many ways like a rehash of Parliament’s past glory, though there are bright spots. The first single, the punning “Agony Of Defeet” (#7 R&B) musically recalls Funkadelic’s classic “One Nation Under A Groove”. Clocking in at six and a half minutes on the album, is also released in its full uncut version (running 9:05) as a promo only 12" single in the US. “New Doo Review” also features new P-Funk recruit Lige Curry on bass. It spins off a second single with “Crush It” in early 1981. Originally packaged in a gatefold LP sleeve, the front and back covers feature photos of George Clinton, hair styled in a pompadour and wearing an elephant trunk. Past elaborate extras like posters or comic books are eliminated for this release. Instead, the inner sleeve features illustrations by artist Overton Loyd. Though it gets off to a decent start, interest tapers off quickly and becomes the first Parliament album not to go Gold in the US since “Chocolate City” five years before. Not surprisingly, it is the band’s final release before finally parting ways. Several years later, “Trombipulation” is rediscovered when its grooves are sampled by numerous Hip-Hop artists, most notably Digital Underground. The Oakland, CA based group use the track “Let’s Play House” as the basis for their smash “The Humpty Dance”, and “Agony Of Defeet” on “Doowutchyalike”. “Defeet” is also sampled by Ice Cube on “How To Survive In South Central”, “Step Daddy” by Too Short" and “Buss ‘N Rocks” by Snoop Dogg. First reissued on CD in 1990, the album is remastered and released as a SHM-CD by Universal Music Japan in 2015. “Trombipulation” peaks at number six on the Billboard R&B album chart and number sixty one on the Top 200.