Taken from ThyBlackMan (May 03, 2019)
Throwback Thursday: Funkadelic - Maggot Brain (1971).
by Staffwrier - M. Swift
Funkadelic - Maggot Brain - Cover
(ThyBlackMan.com) Who doesn't love funk? The answer will surprise you but a lot of great albums came out of this genre during the 70s and 80s-especially when it split off into P-funk, go-go, disco and others. A classic is 1971's Maggot Brain from P-funk originators Funkadelic.
Maggot Brain: When Funkadelic Became Funkadelic
Now, Maggot Brain is a bit of a weird album. Not because it's out there-that's expected from anything involving George Clinton-but because it mixes different styles. This isn't unusual when a new genre is being created but this had some psychedelic rock in there, some old school James Brown-era funk, some soul. It was a hodge-podge of sound but a good hodge-podge. Maggot Brain isn't bastard jazz. You know; badly performed, sloppy non-stop jazz.
No, Clinton and the gang were delivering some loose but definitely skilled tunes here. Afterall, each of these musicians had a background in long running bands before forming Funkadelic. Then they took what they crafted and threw in some particularly strong drugs. The approach taken runs right between old school soul/funk and psychedelic rock and that new wave of funk which included Rick James, Prince, the Ohio Players, Chic and so on.
Let's get a little more into it.
A Wild Trip
This is the best way I can describe Maggot Brain. It starts off with the self-titled track which features George Clinton's spoken word intro. This sets a bit of a sci-fi undertone for the rest of the album. Then this track goes clean into "Now watch how proficient we are with our instruments" territory. Now, I dug this because there's weird effect where you just start to vibe with the music. You know it's 10 minutes long and when it ends, you don't even notice that another song has started.
That's a trait with Maggot Brain: the songs bleed into the next to the point that you'll finish the album and might have to listen again to pick up the songs. At least I did the first time I gave it a listen. If you listened to Parliament's Osmium debut, Up for the Down Stroke, or Chocolate City-which I'll have to get into later-it'll seem familiar. You're just drifting from track to track with no warning of when the next track starts or the one that you were on ends.
That said, that can be a major drawback of listening to Maggot Brain. The tunes start to sound similar to the point the album could've taken a prog rock approach and featured one 37-minute track and unless you were reading the back cover or paying close attention to the track listing in your player, you would've really notice the difference.
I guess depending on your preference or ear for music, it's a drawback or a boon. It's in the middle for me depending on the mood. If I'm intently breaking an album down, it's a significant drawback, if I'm just chilling and enjoying some trippy music, it's a huge boon. That said, this band has always been technically tight, it's just the approach is aimed at musical madness and I dig it.
If you want something along these lines with some structure to it, check out Parliament's first three albums. For something a little more on the other end but still with that George Clinton touch, keep on along the Funkadelic road, the band tightens it up in later albums.
RATING: 7.5/10 (Recommended)
HOT TRACKS: "Hit It or Quit It", "Super Stupid", "Wars of Armageddon"