I’ve not heard the infectious groove of Bootsy Collins’ “space-bass” ever denied, which has often been a big draw for Parliament and one of the main factors in their lasting appeal. Odd then that the seemingly oh-so-Bootsy funk of Flash Light is in fact driven along by Bernie Worrell and a handful of Moogs. But that’s all just opening trivia to one of the more influential nuggets in their back catalogue. All that influence fizzles into insignificance when placed against the pure greatness of the track itself however; a jagged musical circle jerk that rolls ever gloriously through playful fields of varying bonhomie.
Thanks to grabbing Snoop Dogg, and the rest of Death Row Records’ township, by their creative bollocks, Flash Light was able to gain somewhat of a second wind across the nineties – specifically fourteen years after its release if we take Doggystyle as the impetus. Having its main vocal hook of “Everybody’s got a little light under the Sun!” twisted into the lovingly parodic “Everybody’s got to hear the shit on W-Balls!” in one of Snoop Dogg’s more memorable skits did nothing but remind us of what a great tune its benefactor actually was. Fast forward to the release of F. Gary Gray’s NWA biopic, Straight Outta Compton and we’re shown through decadent scenes of Eazy-E’s Pool Party just how appropriate Flash Light was to the burgeoning gangster rap craze. Though doubtlessly never an intention of Worrell and his synthesizers, I hope the group recognise their relevance to such an important genre’s birth-mewls.
All of Parliament’s colourful tenacity is communicated beautifully throughout their flagship Flash Light (though it’s admittedly just one in an impressive fleet). What makes it more than five minutes of toe-tapping is how it’s able to bring that out in the listener too. It’s difficult to listen to it and not get an overwhelming confidence running over you – that lack of giving a fuck that takes over when something’s just that cool. Even my own hardened stoicism can’t get past the opening bass line before crumbling into a satisfactory “bass-face”, one i’m sure we’ve all pulled at one time or another. It’s difficult to put into words, but I do believe that Flash Light has managed to grasp something fundamental – perhaps even primal.