Song Of The Day 11/2/2014: Parliament - "The Silent Boatman"

iTunes keeps trying to change the covers of the Parliament albums in my collection. I have seven, including their out-of-print 1970 debut Osmium. That's the album cover iTunes keeps changing my other Parliament albums into. I've tried updating the album cover in the "Get Info" window, uploading the correct covers to all the others. It doesn't matter. Chocolate City gets the Osmium cover. Up For the Down Stroke gets the Osmium cover. Mothership Connection gets the Osmium cover. And for whatever reason iTunes is most insistent that The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein gets the Osmium cover. I've had to change that back three times. I don't know what the hell is going on. I'm pretty sure there's a cautionary sci-fi story about this kind of metadata terrorism hidden somewhere in the grooves of Funkentelechy Vs. The Placebo Syndrome but I haven't the bandwidth to ferret it out right now.

By the way, Osmium is a really good album. It was sort of caught up in George Clinton's reorg of the Parliaments into Parliament and the Parliaments' backing band into Funkadelic, distinctions that were near-pointless in ensuing years but seemed to keep office assistants busy. Osmium tends to get overlooked in favor of the Funkadelic album that was out at the time, the splendorous Maggot Brain. There are equal parts rock and early hard funk on Osmium but a couple of detours as well, many of which come from the pen of Ruth Copeland, a British singer/songwriter who was hanging around the enclave, and had similar opinions on approach, suspense and release as most other R&B shouters of her time.

"The Silent Boatman," which Copeland composed and which ends the album, is a stirring, snowcapped, practically Nordic piece welcoming the arrival and attendant rituals of death and judgment. There are heralding bagpipes and consoling harps. Really an elevated and beautiful song. Makes death seem like an Avon party, but that's all right. At least we'll smell good.
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