It was 1971 and The Beatles were gone. However, rock music was just getting started in many other ways. Expert musician George Clinton assembled his first group, Funkadelic to unleash new music to the world. This was surprisingly successful in a historical way, and although this album is not the first release by the group, it is by far the best. Let’s hear why.
We kick off with the legendary title track Maggot Brain. It begins with sound effects and some assembled lyrical thoughts, before leading off with some quiet guitar parts. It’s a very subtle listen, until the famous guitar solo by Eddie Hazel played “just like your momma died”, as instructed by George Clinton, emerges. It’s very beautiful, deep and emotional. It was apparently all done in one take, and sounds very inspired by the music of Jimi Hendrix. It is a masterclass in musical listening to this day. Amazing playing and perfectly placed sound effects are here, and it is an expression of the soul. Great at the time when everything was all single take. No guitarist today can match music quite like this, and that is saying something. It goes quiet again towards the end, and sounds almost like Black Sabbath’s instrumentals in that sense. But still, it is highly original, and totally brilliant. It re-emerges at the end with loud volume and sound effects galore. Just fantastic. A truly awesome listen, and once you hear this, you will never forget it. Some whispering to the “Maggot Brain” is here at the end. Brilliant.
Next are the main pop songs, starting with Can You Get To That which sounds like a proto-Disco music era song. It proves that having an open mind to music of different people, backgrounds and cultures is extremely important. Very old fashioned seemingly today, but by no means bad. Funky, fresh and humourous. Good song. Very catchy. It equates love in life to a credit card with insufficient funds. Clever.
Hit It And Quit It begins with some great, funky guitar parts. It would come as no surprise as this sort of thing becoming very fashionable throughout the 1970s. It’s an upbeat and awesome rock tune for this decade, and beyond. The song title may indeed refer to sex, but regardless, a very catchy song. Brilliant stuff, with another great guitar solo showing the world of rock how it’s done. Awesome.
You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks is next, a piano driven pop piece with some yeah-yeah-yeahs chanted throughout. It is classic African-American music that stands the test of time. Very refreshing and original, it sounds like a good and interesting pop piece, prior to the crazy era of Disco music later on in the decade. There is so much passion and emotion in these songs, sounding very different to much of what came before, and often imitated afterward.
Next is Super Stupid which begins with a great guitar solo, before leading into an extremely catchy rock piece with awesome singing and especially so, guitar riffing. The guitar is centrepiece here, but not overwhelmingly so. This is another amazing piece and guitar so good, it’ll make you question your own ability to play an instrument, if you do. There are breaks with organ melodies, before going straight back the guitar heaven we have encountered. Epic, and simply near perfect. So good to hear such great guitar playing here.
The quirky Back In Our Minds is next, a more traditional sort of song with chime sounding percussion and a more ballad sort of sensibility. It’s another solid listen from this underrated album. Cool, inspired and funky, it is consistent music. There are trumpets here too, go figure.
Wars Of Armageddon is the final track here. It’s a proto-EDM sort of pastiche with a Funkadelic sensibility, brilliant wah-wah funk guitar and sound effects at random. It’s likely influenced by The Beatles Revolution 9 but is really so much better than that drug influenced mix of madness. A chilled, well thought out instrumental. It goes for nearly nine minutes, but it is not dull. Mixing a Funk music basis, looking towards the Disco future, is right here. Most likely inspired by LSD use or similar drugs, it is an odd piece to finish off the album. There is a good humourous aspect to this track, as well. It ends with the Armageddon itself. Nice.
This is one of the most underrated albums released of all time. A genius effort and perfectly done by George Clinton and co. Although George Clinton would have larger success with his next band, Parliament, Maggot Brain is a brilliant and unforgettable album to listen to.
Essential retro funk.