Maggot Brain

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Maggot Brain
Maggot Brain (Funkadelic album - cover art).jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 12, 1971
RecordedLate 1970–early 1971
StudioUnited Sound Systems, Detroit
Genre
Length36:56
LabelWestbound
ProducerGeorge Clinton
Funkadelic chronology
Free Your Mind... and Your Ass Will Follow
(1970)
Maggot Brain
(1971)
America Eats Its Young
(1972)
Singles from Maggot Brain
  1. "You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks"
    Released: April 1971
  2. "Can You Get to That"
    Released: September 1971
  3. "Hit It and Quit It"
    Released: January 1972

Maggot Brain is the third studio album by the American funk band Funkadelic, released by Westbound Records in July 1971. It was produced by band leader George Clinton and recorded at United Sound Systems in Detroit during late 1970 and early 1971.[1] It was the final album recorded by the original Funkadelic lineup; after its release, original members Tawl Ross, Billy Nelson, and Tiki Fulwood left the band for various reasons.[2]

The album charted in the R&B Top 20.[3] Today, it is perhaps best known for its 10-minute title track, performed by guitarist Eddie Hazel.[4] In 2003, Rolling Stone included Maggot Brain on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[5] Pitchfork named it the 17th best album of the 1970s.[6]

Music and lyrics[edit]

The album opens with a spoken word monologue by band leader George Clinton, which refers to "the maggots in the mind of the universe."[7] According to legend, the 10-minute title track was recorded in one take when Clinton, under the influence of LSD, told guitarist Eddie Hazel to play as if he had been told his mother was dead:[8] Clinton instructed him "to picture that day, what he would feel, how he would make sense of his life, how he would take a measure of everything that was inside him and let it out through his guitar."[9] Though several other musicians performed on the track, Clinton largely faded them out of the final mix so that the focus would be on Hazel's guitar.[3] Hazel utilized a fuzz and a wah effects, inspired by his idol Jimi Hendrix; Clinton subsequently added delay and other effects in mixdown, saying "I Echoplexed it back on itself three or four times. That gave the whole thing an eerie feel, both in the playing and in the sound effects."[9] Critics have described the solo as "lengthy, mind-melting" and "an emotional apocalypse of sound."[10]

The subsequent five tracks have been described as "sour harmony-group meditations heavy with bass, keyboard and class consciousness,"[11] with the band exploring a "psychedelic/funk fusion."[12] "Can You Get to That" features Isaac Hayes's backing vocal group Hot Buttered Soul,[2] and contains elements of folk blues and gospel music.[4] "You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks" explores interracial love and features electronically distorted drums.[4] The track "Super Stupid" was described by Pitchfork as a "tale of a dumbass junkie set to a tune Black Sabbath would have been proud of."[2] The 9-minute closing track "Wars of Armageddon" has been described as a "freak-out" jam,[4] and makes use of "paranoid, psychedelic sound effects and crowd sounds."[2] Popular music scholar Yuval Taylor described it as "a burning hot prefiguring" of the music that Miles Davis would perform on his 1975 live album Agharta.[3]

Title and packaging[edit]

Reportedly, "Maggot Brain" was the nickname of Hazel.[13] Other sources say the title is a reference to band leader George Clinton finding his brother's "decomposed dead body, skull cracked, in a Chicago apartment."[14][3]

The cover artwork depicts a screaming black woman's head coming out of the earth;[15] it was photographed by Joel Brodsky and features model Barbara Cheeseborough.[16] The album's liner notes are a polemic on fear provided by the Process Church of the Final Judgement, an obscure Satanist religious cult.[3] According to author Rickey Vincent, the organization's presumed association with mass-murderer Charles Manson, along with the album's foreboding themes and striking artwork, lent Funkadelic the image of a "death-worshipping black rock band."[17]

Release and aftermath[edit]

Westbound Records released Maggot Brain in July 1971. It peaked at number 108 on the US pop chart while missing the UK chart,[18] and also reached the top 20 of the R&B charts.[3]

After the album was released, the band effectively disbanded:[3] drummer Tiki Fulwood was fired due to drug use; guitarist Tawl Ross reportedly got into an "acid eating contest, then snorting some raw speed, before completely flipping out" and has not performed since; bassist Billy Nelson quit over a money dispute with Clinton.[2] Subsequently only Clinton, Hazel, and keyboardist Bernie Worrell remained from the original Funkadelic lineup.[2]

A 2005 reissue included three bonus tracks, among them an alternate mix of "Maggot Brain" featuring the full-band performance.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic5/5 stars[4]
Blender4/5 stars[11]
Christgau's Record GuideB+[19]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[20]
MusicHound Rock4.5/5[21]
Pitchfork10/10[22]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[23]
Spin Alternative Record Guide10/10[24]
Tiny Mix Tapes4.5/5 marks[25]
Uncut4/5 stars[26]

Reviewing for Rolling Stone in September 1971, Vince Aletti negatively described Maggot Brain as "a shattered, desolate landscape with few pleasures," competently performed but "limited." He was particularly critical of the record's second side, panning it as "dead-end stuff," and asked "who needs this shit?"[27] Village Voice critic Robert Christgau was more enthusiastic, praising the title-track as "druggy, time-warped super-schlock" and claiming that the second track features "a rhythm so pronounced and eccentric it could make Berry Gordy twitch to death;" he added that "the funk pervades the rest of the album, but not to the detriment of other peculiarities."[19]

Writing years later for PopMatters, Taylor called the album "one of the loudest, darkest, most intense records ever made," and stated that the group "captured the odor of the age, the stench of death and corruption, the weary exhalation of America at its lowest."[3] Dominque Leone of Pitchfork called the album "an explosive record, bursting at the seams with exactly the kind of larger than life sound a band called Funkadelic should have made."[2] Dave Segal, from the same publication, revered it as "a monument of psychedelic funk" and "a defining document of Black rock music in the early '70s". Additionally, he called its two bookending tracks "the most evocative expressions of birth and annihilation ever put on record" and suggested that the "soulful funk-rock" tracks in between represent the "hott[est] five-song streak in the Clinton canon".[22] The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Rock History (2006) claimed that Maggot Brain and Funkadelic's previous two albums "created a whole new kind of psychedelic rock with a dance groove".[28] Music historian Bob Gulla hailed it as an "iconoclastic funk-rock" record, featuring the best guitar playing of Hazel's career.[29] Author Matthew Grant describes the album as marking where "the band really hit their stride.[30]

In a subsequent review for Blender, Christgau described the 10-minute title song as "indelible" and said the album culminated in "Funkadelic's most incendiary freak-out ever" on the last track, while also applauding the 2005 CD reissue's bonus tracks.[11] Stereogum named it the second best album by the Parliament-Funkadelic collective, and called it "one of the most cathartic R&B albums ever made."[31] John Bush of AllMusic stated that the group "hit its stride with [the] acid-rock extravaganza."[32] Happy Mag named the album among the 5 best P-Funk releases, describing it as "an absolute freakout of psychedelic funk sounds," but also "perhaps Clinton’s most lyrically sparse album."[33] Fender called the album "an eruption of psychedelic agit-funk that blended the increasingly bleak American story—urban decay, prime time body counts from an ongoing slog through Vietnam, and front page assassinations—with the sounds of Hendrix, Motown, James Brown, Cream, Sly Stone, Blue Cheer and Vanilla Fudge."[9]

In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked Maggot Brain #486 on the magazine's list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, with the magazine raising its rank in 2012 to #479, calling it "the heaviest rock album the P-Funk ever created".[34][35] The record was also listed in the music reference book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[1]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Maggot Brain"10:21
2."Can You Get to That" (released as a single-Westbound 185)
  • Clinton
  • Ernest Harris
2:50
3."Hit It and Quit It" (released as a single-Westbound 198)3:50
4."You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks" (released as a single-Westbound 175)
3:36
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Super Stupid"
4:01
2."Back in Our Minds"Haskins2:38
3."Wars of Armageddon"
9:42
  • Sides one and two were combined as tracks 1–7 on CD reissues.
2005 CD reissue bonus tracks
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
8."Whole Lot of BS"
  • Clinton
  • Worrell
2:11
9."I Miss My Baby" (United Soul with Funkadelic, from the CD U.S. Music with Funkadelic)Haskins5:02
10."Maggot Brain" (alternate mix, recorded in 1971)
  • Hazel
  • Clinton
9:35

Personnel[edit]

Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes.[36]

Funkadelic[edit]

Production[edit]

  • 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

Charts[edit]

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

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Wilson, Lois (2010). "Maggot Brain". In Dimery, Robert; Lydon, Michael (eds.). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Leone, Dominique (August 3, 2005). "Funkadelic: Funkadelic / Free Your Mind / Maggot Brain / America Eats Its Young Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Taylor, Yuval (March 23, 2008). "Funk's Death Trip". PopMatters. Retrieved May 14, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e Raggett, Ned (n.d.). "Maggot Brain - Funkadelic". AllMusic. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  5. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. November 2003. Archived from the original on March 17, 2008. Retrieved July 17, 2016.
  6. ^ "Top 100 Albums of the 1970s". Pitchfork.com. Retrieved December 28, 2009.
  7. ^ Houghtaling, Adam Brent. "One-Track Mind: The Passion of Eddie Hazel and Funkadelic's 'Maggot Brain'". Fender.com. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  8. ^ Tate, Greg (January 12, 1993). "Eddie Hazel, 1950–1992". The Village Voice.
  9. ^ a b c Houghtaling, Adam Brent. "One-Track Mind: The Passion of Eddie Hazel and Funkadelic's 'Maggot Brain'". Fender.com. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  10. ^ Bogdanov, Vladimir; Chris Woodstra; Stephen Thomas Erlewine (2002). All music guide to rock: the definitive guide to rock, pop, and soul. Hal Leonard. p. 440. ISBN 978-0-87930-653-3.
  11. ^ a b c Christgau, Robert (August 2008). "The Guide: Back Catalogue: Funkadelic". Blender. Retrieved July 17, 2016 – via robertchristgau.com.
  12. ^ Grant, Matthew. The Rough Guide to Rock. Rough Guides. p. 404.
  13. ^ Thompson, Dave (2001). Funk. Hal Leonard. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-87930-629-8.
  14. ^ Vincent, Rickey (1996). Funk: the music, the people, and the rhythm of the one. Macmillan. p. 236. ISBN 978-0-312-13499-0.
  15. ^ Vincent, Rickey (2014). Funk: The Music, The People, and The Rhythm of The One p. 192. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-1-4668-8452-6.
  16. ^ "Sound and Vision: Spooky Psychedelia? Funkadelic's "Maggot Brain"". Juxtapoz. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  17. ^ Vincent, Rickey (1996). Funk: The Music, The People, and The Rhythm of The One. Macmillan. p. 236.
  18. ^ Agarwal, Manish; et al. (2007). The Mojo Collection (4th ed.). Canongate Books. p. 251. ISBN 184767643X.
  19. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1981). "F". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved May 26, 2020 – via robertchristgau.com.
  20. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). "Funkadelic". Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0857125958.
  21. ^ Gabriel, Lawrence (1996). "Funkadelic". In Graff, Gary (ed.). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Detroit: Visible Ink Press. ISBN 0787610372.
  22. ^ a b Segal, Dave (June 20, 2020). "Funkadelic: Maggot Brain". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  23. ^ Coleman, Mark (1992). "Funkadelic". In DeCurtis, Anthony; Henke, James; George-Warren, Holly (eds.). The Rolling Stone Album Guide (3rd ed.). Random House. p. 268. ISBN 0-679-73729-4.
  24. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). "Funkadelic". Spin Alternative Record Guide. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  25. ^ The Pelican. "Funkadelic - Maggot Brain". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  26. ^ Anon. (n.d.). "Maggot Brain". Uncut. p. 122. Retrieved May 26, 2020 – via OLDIES.com.
  27. ^ Aletti, Vince (September 30, 1971). "Funkadelic: Maggot Brain". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on May 15, 2009. Retrieved July 17, 2016.
  28. ^ 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.
  29. ^ 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.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  30. ^ Grant, Matthew. The Rough Guide to Rock. Rough Guides. p. 404.
  31. ^ Patrin, Nate. "P-Funk Albums From Worst to Best". Stereogum. Retrieved March 7, 2020.
  32. ^ Bush, John. AllMusic Guide: The Definitive Guide to Popular Music. Hal Leonard Corp. p. 163.
  33. ^ Happy. "We've gathered George Clinton's 5 best P-Funk albums". Happy Mag. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  34. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. November 2003. Archived from the original on March 17, 2008. Retrieved July 17, 2016.
  35. ^ Wenner, Jann S., ed. (2012). Rolling Stone – Special Collectors Issue – The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. USA: Wenner Media Specials. ISBN 978-7-09-893419-6
  36. ^ Dean Rudland (2005). Maggot Brain (album liner notes). Westbound Records Inc.

External links[edit]