Parlet: The P-Funk Ladies Step Up

“Sensual satisfaction guaranteed! That’s what this group is about. I’ve been grooving on the girl group thang for awhile, but I needed three girls who could sing with the right amount of sex and soul. These girls will really woo you, ’cause that’s what the Pleasure Principle is about. Funkin’ and wooin’!” – George Clinton, 1978.

The expansion of the Parliament-Funkadelic musical empire went into “urge overdrive” in 1978. Dr. Funkenstein was putting into motion the development of two female P-Funk spin-off acts. The first group to emerge in this process was Parlet, a trio of Funk songbirds that worked with P-Funk for much of the 1970s.

Vocalist Mallia Franklin would prove to be a central figure in the development of Parlet. Her long-standing relationship with George Clinton would help land her the role as P-Funk’s greatest talent scout. She would later be responsible for bringing bassist Bootsy Collins and keyboardist Junie Morrison to the band. Together with Jeanette Washington and Debbie Wright, the trio would form the first incarnation of Parlet.


Released in the spring of 1978, Pleasure Principle, like all of the P-Funk spin-off albums, features the cream of Parliament-Funkadelic musicians including Bootsy Collins, Garry Shider, Bernie Worrell, and newly recruited bassist Rodney “Skeet” Curtis. His fluid, yet rock-steady bottom can be felt all through the title track.

Vocally, each member of Parlet soars in different directions. This is especially true on the track “Misunderstanding” (which also features P-Funk vocalist Ron Ford). 

Pleasure Principle also features the track “Cookie Jar” written by P-Funk vocalist Clarence Fuzzy Haskins, who had departed the band almost a year earlier. The cover of the album was done by Japanese illustrator Shusei Nagaoka, who had recently designed the cover for Earth, Wind, and Fire’s 1977 release All In All.


Parlet’s sophomore release appeared in record stores near the summer of 1979. Production chores were handled by George Clinton and legendary R&B songwriter/producer Ron Dunbar (who would later be recruited as Parlet’s manager). By this time, the lineup for Parlet would change. Debbie Wright and Mallia Franklin would be replaced by Shirley Hayden and Janice Evans. The first single released from the album, “Ridin High” ranks as one of the top singles released by the P-Funk camp. The soaring lead vocals by all three members take this Funk/Disco hybrid to the next level.

This album also marks the debut of the P-Funk Horns (Greg Boyer-trombone, Greg Thomas-sax, and Bennie Cowan-trumpet). This project also features the stunning track, “You’re Leaving” featuring co-lead vocals by Gary “Mud Bone” Cooper of Bootsy’s Rubber Band. The wild and bizarre album cover comes courtesy of Ronald “Stozo” Edwards, who also created the covers for another P-Funk spin-off act: Fred Wesley and the Horny Horns.

hair of rock merch

PLAY ME OR TRADE-Casablanca 1980

The third and final Parlet release would appear in the spring of 1980 with the lead vocal lineup from the previous album still intact. Play Me Or Trade Me employs various second-generation P-Funk musicians including Lige Curry, Jimmy and Jerome Ali, Steve Pannell, and Kenny Colton. The Ali brothers do their thang on the album’s first single “Wolf Tickets” featuring additional vocals from George Clinton, who in turn provided a sneak peek of the new single during an interview with legendary radio DJ Frankie Crocker of WBLS in NYC in March of 1980.

Unlike other P-Funk spin-off acts, Parlet was the only act (outside of  Bootsy’s Rubber Band) to have been able to record a third album, which was released at a time when their label, Casablanca Records, was slowly descending into non-existence having been taken over by Polygram Records (now Universal/Def Jam). As a result, their last album for Casablanca received zero promotion and vanished without a trace.

Like many P-Funk albums, the three albums by Parlet were out of print in the 1980s. It wasn’t until 1992 when Casablanca/Polystar in Japan reissued all three albums on CD. In 2013, the Island/Def Jam label reissued the first two Parlet albums, yet failed to re-release Play Me Or Trade Me. Nevertheless, Parlet succeeded in delivering the P-Funk magic from a feminine perspective. Through their own albums, as well as their participation in the Parliament and Funkadelic projects, the voices of Parlet added righteousness, confidence, and audaciousness to the method of madness conjured up by the good Dr. Funkenstein. Sensual satisfaction indeed!

-Tim Kinley

Photo: Parlet (press photo, courtesy of the author)

Other Posts You Might Like

2 comments on “Parlet: The P-Funk Ladies Step Up

  1. Thank you Tim. This was an awesome read. Keep the Funk Alive. 🤘🏽🤘🏽🤘🏽🛸🛸🛸

  2. I always assumed that Parlet got its name because it’s Parliament without the “men,” but I’ve never seen it mentioned anywhere. You have any idea if that’s true?

Leave a Reply (and please be kind!)