Taken from Chicago Now (Aug 19, 2016)
Tear the Roof Off Documentary Review
by Seven Gunn Says
Director, Bobby J. Brown delves into a shocking story of an underground world of sex, scandal, drugs, and the mystical world of funkadelic rock and roll. This documentary speaks about performers/entertainers as contributing musicians to the groups: Parliament Funkadelic, Parlet, Dr. Funkenstein and the 2 Brides. “Tear the Roof Off” shares insight into the individuals that help transform the spectacular sound and culture of Parliament Funkadelic. The documentary explains the creation of the original ideas behind parliament and the word “funkadelic”.
As a director, it took Brown 10 years to gather information and assemble band members of the groups for their side of the story. Quite a few members passed away either before or during the making of this documentary. Many were reluctant to speak on their experience because of the strife amongst the members and George Clinton. The members collectively claimed that he used drugs in exchange for paying money after the performances were over. They received very little pay, if any. Surely, not even enough to survive on. And no one…I mean no one, got any royalties from any of the songs they contributed towards, except Clinton. He continues to tour with a replacement of the original group called the Parliament Funkadelic.
Billy "Bass" Nelson creator of the word "funkadelic"
This film displays jaw dropping, hip swiveling, performances. As the originators of crazy funk, the P-Funk movement developed and perfected bumpin’ beats and bass. The documentary is a revelatory tale of drug induced events, mind-control, fun and colorful characterization of band members. While existing as geniuses and masters of their craft, the band delivered a warm concoction of rhythm and blues, heavy metal rock, and psychedelic fervor. Concerts consisted of other worldly, mind-blowing cocophany of sound and images.
This film is a wonderful nightmare that has an intricately woven timeline of events meshed into the culture of music as the way we know it today. Songs like “Flashlight”, “Knee Deep”, “Tear the Roof Off", “Maggot Brain”, “Super Stupid,” “"One Nation Under a Groove”, “Disco to Go”, “Swing Down Sweet Chariot”, “Atomic Dog” etc, are inspirations and have been sampled by many artists over the decades.“Tear the Roof Off” will make you laugh and break your heart all at the same time. After watching the film, something in my brain clicked and all things made sense in the strange and marvelous world of funkadelic. The missing pieces were filled in. Many of the events that took place in the film, I was not surprised at. But what was shocking was the level of mind-manipulation through sex, drugs, and money.
"Shady" Grady Thomas
“Tear the Roof Off “ is a timeless joyride roller-coaster of the ages….and often while in a funkadelic state the experience comes… depending on where and when you get off. It’s so cool, it has to be ultra-funkified. A true Afrofuturistic colorful depiction of the life and times of the birthplace of funkadelic rock. More than just a documentary; it represents spellbinding iconic mastery. Many of our memories are connected to this movement. It is the understanding our funkadelic roots.
Dawn Silva (Bride of Dr. Funkenstein) and Jeanette Washington (member of Parlet)
Characters were entrenched in a world of imaginative soulful phenomenon, all taking on a personality of their own. Themes and ideas of the movement are prophetic in nature including to but not limited to : Chocolate City- describing a President that was chocolate in the White House (President Obama). A place where imaginative worlds collide channeling the full flavor and hot funk all day and all night; inhibitions run wild and free, and the young live forever. A fictional world….and when it was all over, back to reality. For many, when the roller-coaster ride ended and they opened their eyes; the real world came crashing down around them. For some, they moved on to other endeavors, but for some it wasn’t so easy…they had succumbed to a life of drugs, some of have been victims of poverty.
Many royalties and credits were not given to those who have paved the way for musicians of today. This film lovingly pays homage to the origins of revolutionary style, fashion, music, and politics. George Clinton was a leader and an influencer of the groups of Parliament Funkadelic, the Parlets, and Dr. Funkenstein and the Brides. Members made contributions to the group with their vocals, instrumental arrangements, and culture of characters. These musicians are the heroes and sheroes of history, rooted and intertwined in Afrofuturism origins.
from left to right, Bobby J. Brown, Jeanette Washington, Dawn Silva, me, Billy "Base" Nelson," Shady" Grady Thomas
Persons on panel in attendance for Q & A screening at the Gene Siskel Film Center at the Black Harvest Film Festival.
Director-Bobby J. Brown, actor from “The Wire” and writer/director of “Tear the Roof Off” and “Off the Chain”
Billie “Bass” Nelson- Funkadelic, character band member, Bass guitar player and instrumental arrangement contributor P-Funk
Shady Grady Thomas-vocalist for original Parliament, character band member-P-Funk
Jeanette Washington-vocalist, member of Parlet (female group of Parliament Funkadelics)
Dawn Silva- vocalist, member of the Brides of Dr. Funkenstein
Moderator of the film-Ytasha Womack