Analog Adventures: Maggot Brain
(1971, multiple reissues)
About the Artist
Funkadelic is legendary bassist and producer George Clinton’s psychedelic counterpart to Parliament. The group had humble beginnings as a backup section for a doo wop band in the 1960s. The line-up reads like a list of the best funk and R&B musicians of the 70s and that is no mistake. When the band moved to Detroit, they became more experimental with their sound.
The cultural climate of the time was one of unrest and upheaval, throwing all norms and conventions to the wayside. Their sound began to reflect this. Funkadelic saw success with their self-titled debut album. Maggot Brain is the third album in their discography and released during a tumultuous period of the bands history. Layered vocals, thick and heavy basslines, keyboards everywhere, and Hendrix-esque guitar work define the work of Funkadelic. This sound is known as the P-Funk sound, and is incredibly influential on modern hip-hop and R&B.
The Record Itself
Maggot Brain saw a release in 1971 and was not received well by critics at the time. Rolling Stone magazine said the album was “uninteresting and lyrically-thin”. However fans of Funkadelic love Maggot Brain. The album begins with the title track, which apart from a short spoken word segment, is completely instrumental. Guitarist Eddie Hazel plays one of the most iconic guitar solos in rock history over the ten minute track, incorporating wah pedals, chorus effects, delay, and reverb. The solo is often compared to Jimi Hendrix’s work – rightly so – yet it transcends being a simple imitation of Hendrix due to Hazel’s distinct emotive style of playing.
“You want peace, I want peace. They want peace and the kids need peace, there won’t be no peace.” – Funkadelic, You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks
The influence of Maggot Brain is present in contemporary acts such as Childish Gambino’s Awaken, My Love! and just about every Red Hot Chili Peppers record. The pitch perfect back-up singers, falsetto lead vocals, and infectious grooves define each track.The 2008 reissue is a 180 gram disc, which is the sweet spot for record weight. The imagery is tame for a Funkadelic album, acting symbolic rather than psychedelic. The theme of the album is about destruction and rebirth, the consequences of human activity on the planet and population. This edition lacks audio quality due to the fact it comes from a digital remaster instead of a warm analog source. Fans bemoan digital sources on analog records. Fortunately there are multiple editions of this record available, make your choice accordingly.
The inside of the record
Is It Worth It?
Starting at $15 for a used copy, this record is a shining example of the P-Funk sound that defined 1970s psychedelic rock. The profound influence of this record is still present to this day, making this record sound modern to old and new listeners alike. Virtuoso guitar playing combined with funky bass, keys, and drums create rhythms to dance to. This is a great snapshot of American music in the 1970s, and absolutely worth having in your library.
- Maggot Brain
- You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks
- Super Stupid