Maggot Brain

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Maggot Brain
Maggot Brain (Funkadelic album - cover art).jpg
Studio album by Funkadelic
Released July 12, 1971
Recorded late 1970–early 1971
Studio Universal Studios, Detroit
Genre Funk rock, psychedelic rock
Length 36:56
Label Westbound
Producer George Clinton
Funkadelic chronology
Free Your Mind... and Your Ass Will Follow
(1970)Free Your Mind... and Your Ass Will Follow1970
Maggot Brain
America Eats Its Young
(1972)America Eats Its Young1972

Maggot Brain is the third studio album by the American funk band Funkadelic. It was recorded at Universal Studios in Detroit during late 1970 and early 1971,[1] before being released in July 1971 by Westbound Records. Shortly after Maggot Brain was recorded, Tawl Ross, Eddie Hazel, Billy Nelson, and Tiki Fulwood left the band for various reasons.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[3]
Blender 4/5 stars[4]
Christgau's Record Guide B+[5]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[6]
MusicHound Rock 4.5/5[7]
Pitchfork 9.4/10[2]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[8]
Spin Alternative Record Guide 10/10[9]
Tiny Mix Tapes 4.5/5[10]
Uncut 4/5 stars[11]

In a contemporary review for Rolling Stone, Vince Aletti deemed Maggot Brain a collection of competently performed but uninteresting and lyrically-thin funk songs, bookended by an exceptional title track and the "mindless" closer "Wars of Armageddon". He was particularly critical of the record's second side, panning it as "dead-end stuff".[12] Robert Christgau was more enthusiastic in a retrospective review for Blender, calling the last track "Funkadelic's most incendiary freak-out ever" and the culmination of shorter songs on the album that were "heavy with bass, keyboard and class consciousness". "And for once, all three bonus tracks are plusses", he wrote regarding its CD reissue.[4] Music historian Bob Gulla hailed it as an "iconoclastic funk-rock" record, featuring the best guitar playing of Eddie Hazel's career.[13] According to The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Rock History (2006), Maggot Brain and Funkadelic's previous two albums "created a whole new kind of psychedelic rock with a dance groove".[14]

In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked Maggot Brain number 486 on the magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[15] Pitchfork named it the 17th best album of the 1970s.[16] The record was also listed in the music reference book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[1]

Music and lyrics[edit]

"Maggot Brain"[edit]

"Can You Get to That"[edit]

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 Funkadelic version begins with the line "I once had a life, or rather, life 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.

"Hit It and Quit It"[edit]

The song features 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"[edit]

This 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 has Judie Jones (Worrell's girlfriend at time) in songwriting credits, which it has been claimed was mistakenly for this song instead of "Red Hot Mama" (from Standing on the Verge of Getting It On).

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):

If you and your folks love me and my folks
Like me and my folks love you and your folks
If there ever was folks
That ever ever was poor.
If you an' yo' folks likes me an' my folks,
Lak me an' my folks likes you an' yo' folks;
You's never seed folks since folks 'as been folks,
Like you an' yo' folks lak me an' my folks.
Negro Folk Rhymes

"Super Stupid"[edit]

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 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"[edit]

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

"Wars of Armageddon"[edit]

The music is a bizarre mix of music and special effects-type sounds (including the unmistakable sound of flatulence at the 7:31 mark), 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"[edit]

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".

  • Lead Vocal: George Clinton

"I Miss My Baby"[edit]

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.

  • Lead Vocal: Garry Shider

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Maggot Brain" Edward Hazel, George Clinton 10:21
2. "Can You Get to That" (released as a single-Westbound 185) George Clinton, Ernest Harris 2:50
3. "Hit It and Quit It" (released as a single-Westbound 198) George Clinton, William Nelson 3:50
4. "You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks" (released as a single-Westbound 175) George Clinton, Clarence Haskins, William Nelson, Bernard Worrell, Judie Jones (mistakenly credit) 3:36
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
5. "Super Stupid" Edward Hazel, Lucious Ross, William Nelson, George Clinton 4:01
6. "Back in Our Minds" Clarence Haskins 2:38
7. "Wars of Armageddon" Ramon Fulwood, Lucious Ross, George Clinton, Bernard Worrell 9:42
2005 CD reissue bonus tracks
No. Title Writer(s) Length
8. "Whole Lot of BS" George Clinton, Bernard Worrell 2:11
9. "I Miss My Baby" (United Soul with Funkadelic, from the CD U.S. Music with Funkadelic) Clarence Haskins 5:02
10. "Maggot Brain" (alternate mix, recorded in 1971) Edward Hazel, George Clinton 9:35


Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes.[17]



  • Produced by George Clinton
  • Executive producer – Armen Boladian
  • Bernie Mendelson in charge of The Eegangas
  • Cover photography by Joel Brodsky
  • Inside cover photography by Ron Scribner
  • Artwork design – The Graffiteria/Paula Bisacca
  • Art direction – David Krieger
  • Album supervision – Bob Scerbo
  • Album co-ordination – Dorothy Schwartz
  • Model on album cover- Barbara Cheeseborough


Billboard Music Charts (North America) - album

  • 1971 Pop Albums No. 108
  • 1971 Black Albums No. 14
  • 1990 Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums No. 92


  1. ^ a b Wilson, Lois (2010). "Maggot Brain". In Dimery, Robert; Lydon, Michael. 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2. 
  2. ^ a b Leone, Dominique. Review: Maggot Brain. Pitchfork. Retrieved on 2009-12-28.
  3. ^ Raggett, Ned. Review: Maggot Brain. AllMusic. Retrieved on 2009-12-28.
  4. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (August 2008). "The Guide: Back Catalogue: Funkadelic". Blender. Retrieved July 17, 2016. 
  5. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Funkadelic: Maggot Brain". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the '70s. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0306804093. Retrieved July 17, 2016. 
  6. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). "Funkadelic". Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0857125958. 
  7. ^ Gabriel, Lawrence (1996). "Funkadelic". In Graff, Gary. MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Detroit: Visible Ink Press. ISBN 0787610372. 
  8. ^ Coleman, Mark (1992). "Funkadelic". In DeCurtis, Anthony; Henke, James; George-Warren, Holly. The Rolling Stone Album Guide (3rd ed.). Random House. p. 268. ISBN 0-679-73729-4. 
  9. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). "Funkadelic". Spin Alternative Record Guide. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8. 
  10. ^ Pelican, The. Review: Maggot Brain. Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved on 2009-12-28.
  11. ^ "Funkadelic - Maggot Brain CD Album". CD Universe. Retrieved July 17, 2016. 
  12. ^ Aletti, Vince (September 30, 1971). "Funkadelic: Maggot Brain". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on May 15, 2009. Retrieved July 17, 2016. 
  13. ^ Gulla, Bob (2008). Icons of R&B and Soul. Icons of R&B and Soul: An Encyclopedia of the Artists who Revolutionized Rhythm. 2. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 446. ISBN 0313340463. 
  14. ^ Smith, Chris (2006). The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Rock History: From Arenas to the Underground, 1974-1980. Greenwood Press. p. 9. ISBN 0-313-32937-0. 
  15. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. November 2003. Archived from the original on March 17, 2008. Retrieved July 17, 2016. 
  16. ^ Staff. Top 100 Albums of the 1970s. Pitchfork. Retrieved on 2009-12-28.
  17. ^ Dean Rudland (2005). Maggot Brain (album liner notes). Westbound Records Inc. 

External links[edit]