The liner notes to these reissues do a helpful job of sorting out the group's confusing, on-again, off-again personnel changes. After Maggot Brain, the lineup changed so much that Funkadelic was less a "band" than a conglomerate (although not nearly as loose a conglomerate as the P-Funk All-Stars touring act). This revolving-door cast included legends such as guitar shredder Eddie Hazel and keyboardist-arranger Bernie Worrell, as well as lesser-known heroes like drummer Tiki Fulwood and vocalist-guitarist Gary Shider, a VIP on the post-Maggot Brain albums. America Eats Its Young alone includes some 40 musicians and vocalists, while the others average around 10. (Yes, bass icon Bootsy Collins is one of them, but he wasn't a major player until later, beginning with Let's Take It to the Stage.)
If you're an old fan who's just interested in bonus tracks, Funkadelic, with its many alternate versions and B-sides, and Maggot Brain, with its alternate, full-band mix of the monumental title track, are the standouts. If you haven't heard these albums, just start with the first and go in chronological order from there, skipping America Eats Its Young and saving it until after you've heard Cosmic Slop and Standing on the Verge. (America is less of an a rchetypal Funkadelic LP and more of a hodgepodge of various P-Funk ideas.) I love 'em all, though, and will continue to generate hyperbole on the band's behalf until stations like the Bone drop the Guess Who and Grand Funk Railroad and start playing "Super Stupid" and "Funk Dollar Bill," or until journalists quit perpetuating the booty-shaking party-band aspect of Clinton and company's legacy at the expense of all the other incredible music they made. Don't hold your breath.