Funkadelic – Maggot Brain
Getting into George Clinton’s bands Parliament and Funkadelic is a daunting task. To start with, the two main bands released around 20 studio albums, and then there’s the constellational orbit of solo efforts, side projects and live albums that surround them. For Generation X, hip-hop provided many in-roads to both bands.
For example, “Me, Myself and I” by De La Soul likely sent a crate digger straight to “(Not Just) Knee Deep” off Funkadelic’s 1979 album Uncle Jam Wants You. “Let Me Ride” by Dr. Dre points straight to the 1976 Parliament song “Mothership Connection (Star Child)” off the album Mothership Connection. We could do this all day—these two bands are among the most sampled on Earth—but a Funkadelic sample hit the airwaves more recently courtesy of a less likely artist. In 2010, Sleigh Bells, more known for pounding guitar and drum machines than rollicking acoustic rock, scored a hit with “Rill, Rill,” sampling Funkadelic’s 1971 song “Can You Get to That.”
This was on Maggot Brain, the band’s third album, which captures Funkadelic transitioning from a ball-busting psychedelic rock band to one more in keeping with the name. It begins with a blistering 10 minute guitar solo that guitarist Eddie Hazel arrived at by Clinton telling him to “play like you just found out your mother died.”
Elsewhere, tracks like “Hit It and Quit It” and the awesomely titled “Super Stupid” flatten the listener with Hendrix-esque funk rock; a concoction they’re basically inventing right in front of you. “You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks” and “Back in Our Minds” throw in some class- and social-consciousness without losing any of the band’s inherent playfulness. Finally, George being George, he closes out the proceedings with the 10-minute freak-out “Wars of Armageddon.” All in all this might be the best singular project in the Parliament/Funkadelic cannon.