Length - 36:45
Released on January 1st, 1971
Lead Guitar: Eddie Hazel
Rhythm Guitar: Tawl Ross
Keyboards: Bernie Worrel
Bass: Billy Nelson
Drums: Tiki Fullwood
Vocals: George Clinton and backup singers for Parliament
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
Maggot Brain was one of Funkadelic's most succesful albums, and probably their best of the Eddie Hazel era. Maggot Brain, like most of their Hazel era albums, was more based in folk, soul, R&B, blues, rock, pyschadelia, and older funk, compared to their later more electronic thumping funk. It is the album that put Funkadelic on the map, who had often took back-seat to their other group, Parliament (Parliament and Funkadelic were intertwined, most of Parliament was on a Funkadelic album at some time, and vice versa).
Besides the musical style featured in Maggot Brain, it also defines the aura of the Hazel era group. The album is strange and creepy. The front features one of the band members (I think) with his head on the ground, the rest of him burried. The back cover features a skull on the ground, insinuating that his head was eaten by maggots. Also, instead of lyrics inside the album, there is a long excerpt taken from "Process Number Five on Fear The Process" from the Church of the Final Judgement. It's all about fear, taken from a 60's/70's cult called "The Process." The whole thing can be quite scary, actually, especially for new listeners. This is a far cry from the goofy fun of later Funkadelic albums, such as "One Nation Under a Groove" or "Uncle Jam Wants You."
The first song, and title track, "Maggot Brain" begins with an echoed crackle of feedback. Continuing the creepiness found in the liner notes, the beginning of this song features nothing but George Clinton saying (in an echoed, and reverby voice):
Mother Earth is pregnant for the third time. For ya'll 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 s***.
After this, a sad sounding, slow guitar chord progression comes in, with echoing drums. The rest of the song is instrumental. The beginning chords are played throughout the song, as Eddie Hazel does one of the greatest guitar solos of all time. George Clinton had famously told Eddie to play as if his mother had just died, and it shows in this song. Eddie has incredible guitar tone in the song, and makes great use of the wah-wah pedal. The solo sounds like those of David Gilmour, played with a Hendrix-esque style. Many have said it is a song about Eddie Hazel's drug-addled brain, but it is actually about a state of mind, where one can escape earthly troubles, hence the last line in the intro. This song is absolutely awe-inspiring. When listening to the song, it's very easy to zone out, and become one with the music. It is a rare song in which after 10 minutes, it ends, and you still want more. To sum it up, "Maggot Brain" ranks as one of the greatest guitar solos of all time.
The next song, "Can You Get To That," begins with a folksy guitar riff. The song is incredibly gospel-influenced, and features the backup singers from Parliament. Another slow song, yet not as sad. This song is about a breakup. The song seems like something you'd hear from black music in the 60's. It also features low baritone singing from Garry Shider. Not an amazing song, but a good song nonetheless. It would have been impossible to live up to "Maggot Brain" anyway.
"Hit It And Quit It" is the next song. It begins with a wah-wah guitar and organ riff. The wah-wah pedal is used really well here. It is very soul based. Itâ€™s a pretty heavy sounding song, and the organ throughout the song really improves the song. In the middle of the song, there is an organ solo. While it isnâ€™t very technically impressive, it goes well with the song. The last solo, a wah-wah guitar solo, by Eddie, is really terrific. The reverb gives it a spacey sort of effect. This is a rare song in that the rhythm guitar is played with wah the entire time. Itâ€™s hard to pull off a good song like that, and make it full sounding, but somehow it works (the organ might have something to do with that).
The next song is â€œYou and Your Folks, Me and My Folks.â€ This song is very R&B based, with a hint of soul. The thumping bassline and the piano are great on this song. The fast echo of the drums makes the song seem a little bizarre. Eddie Hazel has a sort of hard to notice guitar solo in the middle. The solo is great even though it is hard to notice. Itâ€™s a slower song, and seems like it is the sequel to â€œHit it and Quit it.â€
â€œSuper Stupidâ€ is a complete rocker. It sounds more like heavy metal than most things Funkadelic did. It begins with a really cool guitar riff done by Eddie Hazel. Eddie sings lead vocals on this song. The chorus of the song is the highlight, with sing along â€œdoodoo doo doo, doo dododododoâ€ vocals. It is a very wild song, featuring yet another amazing wah-wah solo from Eddie Hazel, probably the second best solo on the album (best being the title track, of course). This song reminds the listener of Voodoo Child, except this song is much wilder, and bassier. Also, the guitar and bass have a crunchy tone, which works great with the song.
â€œBack In Our Minds Againâ€ has lots of psychedelic influence, and seems to be about two friends who have reconciled with each other. To be more specific, the two friends may be drunk at the time. It sounds kind of like a drinking song. This song points at the personality of George Clinton, which would become very prominent in later Funkadelic recordings. Influence from their other group, Parliament, is heard here, when the song ends with a trombone solo.
The last song, â€œWars of Armageddon,â€ is an instrumental track, mostly, with random blurbs throughout the song. Unlike most Funkadelic songs, the main focal point in much of the song is the organ. The guitar also gets a chance to shine. Itâ€™s a pure tripped out funk jam. Itâ€™s got a bunch of random sounds throughout, such as crying babies, screaming women, farting sounds, and complaining mothers. Another thing in this song that really stands out is the percussion. Itâ€™s another wild song, with some more great wah-wah solos youâ€™ve come to expect from Eddie Hazel. In one of the songs more humorous moments, some people are chanting â€œMore power to the peopleâ€ and that line becomes â€œMore p*ssy to the people!â€ The song just gets more and more bizarre and intense. After an abrupt ending, the sounds of thunder and wind come in, and someone says â€œlook at that pollution, itâ€™s a fat funky person.â€ After that, there is a heartbeat, and a short outburst of what appears to be funk music coming from a radio. It is a completely bizarre way to end a weird, wonderful album.
â€œMaggot Brainâ€ is essential to any fan of funk and/or hard rock. Eddie Hazel is one of the best guitarists of all time, and is one of the best users of the wah-wah pedal. Plus, itâ€™s one of Funkadelicâ€™s rootsiest albums, going back to the old days of funk.