Tuesday, March 06, 2007

231. Funkadelic - Maggot Brain (1971)

Track Listing

1. Maggot Brain
2. Can You Get to That
3. Hit It and Quit It
4. You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks
5. Super Stupid
6. Back in Our Minds
7. Wars of Armageddon


Funk to the rescue, we needed some funk after these thoughtful, slightly depressing singer/songwriters. Still, the first track here doesn't really make you cheery, it is a sad, 10 minute guitar solo, which is also one of the best guitar tracks ever done. The guitar cries through the track like a person in pain, George Clinton famously asked the guitarist to play it like his mother had just died, and he did.

This is probably the most heterogeneous album on the list until now, it goes from great Hendrix like guitar solos to traditional funk, to some rockier Hendrix-like numbers and in the end to a sound collage. All of it is really well done, but it doesn't really feel cohesive as an album.

The first track here is at a level of sublime that all that follows it is just not as good, even if Super Stupid is a great track. This is not to say other tracks aren't great, but they really don't live up to the transcendental quality of the first one. It is really hard to start an album with the best track, if you've seen High Fidelity you know that the first one has to be catchy but not the best. After the amazing title track the album is never able to kick it up a notch, and even through it is a superb album it loses points for it. Still, you can get it at Amazon UK or US.

Track Highlights

1. Maggot Brain
2. Super Stupid
3. Can You Get To That
4. You and Your Folks, Me And My Folks

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

On The title Track:

According to legend, George Clinton, out of his mind on LSD, told Eddie Hazel to play the first half of the song like his mother had just died, and still other version say that he told Hazel to play the second half as if he had found out she was alive. The result was the 10-minute guitar solo for which Hazel is most fondly remembered by many music critics and fans. Though several other musicians began the track playing, Clinton soon realized the power of Hazel's solo and faded them out so that the focus would be on Hazel's guitar. The entire track was recorded in one take. The solo is played in a pentatonic minor scale in the key of E over another guitar track of four simple arpeggios. Hazel's solo was played through a fuzzbox and a wah pedal, some sections of the song utilize a delay effect.

Seven years later, Michael Hampton (Eddie Hazel's replacement as lead guitarist) performed his own interpretation of the song in 1978. That cut was included in a bonus EP-vinyl that was distributed with Funkadelic album, One Nation Under a Groove. The cut is also included in most CD editions of the album.

This song has very few lyrics, spoken only at the beginning of the song before Hazel's solo takes off. The concept of "Maggot Brain" is, however, very important in understanding P Funk mythology. The original source of the song is commonly thought to have been inspired by the grief and confusion of George Clinton, after having discovered his older brother's body (after a lethal drug overdose) when decomposition had already set in. On another level, "maggot brain" could refer to Eddie Hazel's drug-riddled brain. In the grand scheme of things, Maggot Brain is a mode of being, thinking and existing, in which one transcends the troubles of Earthly existence by revelling in the freedom of funk. The brief spoken word introduction to the song tells us that "Mother Earth is pregnant for the third time, for y'all have knocked her up. I have tasted the maggots in the mind of the universe - I was not offended, for I knew I had to rise above it all, or drown in my own shit."

Maggot Brain (this time with Michael Hampton instead of Eddie Hazel, but still perfect):

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