Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Funkadelic - Maggot Brain (1971)

Maggot Brain is the third studio album by the American funk band Funkadelic, released in 1971 on Westbound Records. The album incorporates musical elements of psychedelia, rock, gospel, and soul music, with significant variation between each track. Pitchfork Media named it the seventeenth best album of the 1970s.[1] In 2003, the album was ranked number 486 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[2]

Track listing

  1. "Maggot Brain" (George Clinton, Eddie Hazel) – 10:20
  2. "Can You Get to That" (Clinton, Ernie Harris) – 2:50 (released as a single-Westbound 185)
  3. "Hit It And Quit It" (Clinton, Billy Bass Nelson, Garry Shider) – 3:50 (released as a single-Westbound 198)
  4. "You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks" (Clinton, Judie Jones, Bernie Worrell) – 3:36 (released as a single-Westbound 175)
  5. "Super Stupid" (Clinton, Hazel, Nelson, Tawl Ross) – 3:57
  6. "Back in Our Minds" (Fuzzy Haskins) – 2:38
  7. "Wars of Armageddon" (Clinton, Tiki Fulwood, Ross, Worrell) – 9:42
Bonus tracks
2005 Re-release bonus tracks
  1. "Whole Lot of BS" (Clinton, Worrell) - 2:11
  2. "I Miss My Baby" U.S. Music with Funkadelic (Haskins) - 5:02
  3. "Maggot Brain" (alternate mix, recorded in 1971) (Clinton, Hazel) - 9:35
"Maggot Brain" is a song by the band Funkadelic. It appears as the lead track on their 1971 album of the same name.
The original recording of the song, over ten minutes long, features little more than a spoken introduction and a much-praised extended guitar solo by Eddie Hazel. Music critic Greg Tate described the song as Funkadelic's A Love Supreme;[1] the song is no. 60 on the Rolling Stone list of 100 Greatest Guitar Songs.[2] Reportedly, "Maggot Brain" was Hazel's nickname.[3] Other sources say the title is a reference to band leader George Clinton finding his brother's "decomposed dead body, skull cracked, in a Chicago apartment."[4] Michael Hampton (Hazel's replacement as lead guitarist) recorded his own interpretation of the song in 1978, which was included in a bonus vinyl EP that was distributed with the album One Nation Under a Groove; the cut is also included in most CD editions of that album.

Creation

According to legend, George Clinton, under the influence of LSD, told Eddie Hazel during the recording session to imagine he had been told his mother was dead, but then learned that it was not true.[1] 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. Critics have described the solo as "lengthy, mind-melting" and the ending as "an emotional apocalypse of sound."[5]
The entire track was recorded in one take. The solo is mostly played in a pentatonic minor scale in the key of E over another guitar track of a simple arpeggio. Hazel's solo was played through a fuzzbox and a Crybaby Wah wah pedal; some sections of the song utilize a delay effect. This style would be revisited later in Standing on the Verge of Getting It On on the track "Good Thoughts, Bad Thoughts". A live version with full band accompaniment was released in 1997 on the album "Funkadelic Finest".

Reputation

From 1976 to 1995, disc jockey Bill "B.L.F. Bash" Freeman started a tradition of playing the original full version of the song on 100.7 WMMS/Cleveland every Sunday morning at 1:30 (around "last call"). The tradition picked up in 1987 is still carried on to this day, by Mr.Classic host of "The Saturday Night Live House Party" featured on 98.5 WNCX/Cleveland at 11:50pm. The song appeared in "The Down Low", an episode of the television series House and was featured in the film Towelhead. In March 2005, Father Nature Magazine placed Eddie Hazel's performance on "Maggot Brain" at number 1 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos; the solo came in at number 71 in "100 Greatest Guitar Solos" by Guitar World. The solo has had great influence on some guitar players, Vernon Reid among them.[6]

"Can You Get to That"

This song is a departure from the groove-oriented Funkadelic sound and is more of a traditional lyric-based acoustic rock piece. It begins with a descending acoustic guitar line which is joined by piano, bass and drums which support a cast of singers. It is a rewrite of a song by The Parliaments titled, "What You Been Growin'" and is heavily influenced by gospel music stylistically.
Where the Parliaments version was a break-up song, the singer of the Funkadelic version begins with the line 'I once had a life, or rather, life had me' (a possible reference to The Beatles' "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)", which begins with the lines, "I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me?"): rather than a bitter reminiscence about a woman, it becomes an account of the singer's revelation that living on principles of co-operation, sincerity and the principles of karma ('When you base your life on credit and your loving days are done / Checks you sign with love and kisses later come back signed 'Insufficient Funds' ' - interestingly, this line seems to echo part of Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' speech) mark him out from the un-enlightened crowd and exalted his life.
This song has recently been heavily sampled in 2010 song "Rill, Rill" by Sleigh Bells.[13]

"Hit It and Quit It"

The song feature Bernie Worrell's vocals and organ-playing, as well as an extended Eddie Hazel solo at the end.

"You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks"

Some claim that this song is, lyrically and musically, a sequel to "Hit It And Quit It" (the previous song). It is a very class-conscious song, with the singer pleading for unity among the poor because without doing so, equality could not be achieved.
The song's refrain is very similar to an old folk rhyme that was first published in Thomas W. Talley's Negro Folk Rhymes (Wise or Otherwise) (1922):

"Super Stupid"

The title of this song refers to a drug addict who buys the wrong drug accidentally. He is also referred to as having a "maggot brain". The verse of the song uses similar combination of rap singing over drum rhythm plus occasional guitar chords as is heard on "Crosstown Traffic" by Jimi Hendrix.
The supergroup Audioslave has done several live covers of this song, the studio version was released on their 2005 single Be Yourself. The song was also covered by Tackhead on their album Strange Things.

"Back in Our Minds"

This song seems to be about the singer and someone else (possibly different races, former lovers or friends) having reconciled and are now "brothers."

"Wars of Armageddon"

The music is a bizarre mix of music and special effects-type sounds, and intelligent, though unusual and abstract, lyrics.
This song is socially conscious, as the singer demands immediate freedom from oppression, as well as "power to the people" (and many more demands, many nonsensical, see above).

] Whole Lot of BS

This song is a bonus track on the album, originally released as a non-album B-side to the single "Hit It and Quit It".

I Miss My Baby

This song is another bonus track, originally released as the B-side to an early take of "Baby I Owe You Something Good", which was later reworked for the Let's Take It to the Stage LP. The single was credited to U.S. Music with Funkadelic, as Garry Shider's group US was featured on the recording with Funkadelic playing most of the music.

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