My pick for today’s Friday funk song, Dennis Coffey’s 2011 rendition of the P-Funk classic “All Your Goodies Are Gone” is unique for several reasons. For one, Dennis Coffey is one of the great undersung artists of soul and particularly funk music, recording an out and out funk classic, “Scorpio” back in the ’70s. “Scorpio” earned him the distinction of being the first white artist to appear on Soul Train, and was a foundational record for both the Breakdancing and Locking dance styles. “All Your Goodies” has the distinction of being the second single George Clinton’s Parliaments released, follwing the major succes of “Testify.” It’s a part of the George Clinton songbook, and Dennis Coffey is a very interesting musician to reanimate it at this time because he, along with other members of the Motown “Funk Brothers” house band, performed on the original! Coffey actually used two P-Funk songs he played guitars for on his 2011 self titled release, this, and “I Bet You.” And he made a great choice of vocalist to voice it on this rendition, Detroit soulster Mayer Hawthorne, a young artist who’s career is based on updating vintage vibe.
“All Your Goodies Are Gone” is an early song from the P-Funk songbook that has been returned to by the band from time to time, including most famously on 1974’s “Up for the Down Stroke.” It’s a powerful, dark minor key soul song about a man with a flighty, unfaithful woman, who defiantly gets up and walks away rather than be one man in her crowd. Coffey’s rendition begins with his guitar having a conversation with the organ and voices, playing a phrase that gets answered while the drum pounds on all fours. The song breaks from that to a mean vintage late ’60s Motown groove, the darker kind that The Temptations (influenced by Sly Stone and Funkadelic) worked to such success. The key is minor and sinister sounding.
Hawthorne goes on to ably and soulfully sing George Clinton’s lyrics telling his flighty lover “Let Hurt put you in the losers seat”, a lyric that Clinton appropriated from a Hertz Car Rental Commercial. “Goodies” comes off as the dark twin or dark side of The Parliaments first hit, ‘Testify”, particularly when Hawthorne sings “Shame on me/for thinking that I could/possibly be/the exclusive one/of your choice/in this world infested with boys.” This vocal decleration is backed by the powerful rising riff for which “All Your Goodies” is known, which was focused on and brought out more in Parliament’s 1974 version. Hawthorne goes on to ably and soulfully sing a song of male hurt and damaged ego, which is one of Dr. Funkensteins great themes as a song writer. By the end of the song, the narrator has found the strength to cut his relationship off, unlike Bill Whithers character in “Use Me” who was so pleased by the sensuality of the situation he chose to put up with abuse, and also unlike Ronald Isley’s narrator of “Its Your Thing” who was unconcerned with what his friend with benefits did as long as he got his. The song vamps out with Coffeys guitar engaged in a call and response with the organ and the dark riff playing on and on and on.
“All Your Goodies” is a great example of George Clintons viewpoint as a song writer, Mayer Hawthornes skill as a vocalist, and Dennis Coffeys unsung band leading abilities. The song’s story plays out like a love letter with the protagonist discovering his lady was unfaithful, talking himself through a sad situation, and in the end finding the strength and self love to move on. All throughout, it displays the great rationality I learned from George Clinton. I always remember an interview where Clinton said he never took anything personally that people did to him because he always figured it was more about them than it was about him. The narrator of this song realizes he couldn’t keep his woman from straying in a “world infested with boys.” But even though he accepts the choice she made, he also makes a choice not to stay with her and take the punnishment and anguish. Dennis Coffey revisits a song he helped make in conjunction with the original Funk Brothers and makes it roar with authentic late ’60s funky soul vibe. As with all funky comebacks, Dennis Coffey’s should be supported to the fullest, and I hope he is appreciated even more now than he was back in his heyday!