Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Maggot Brain

[So I wrote this yesterday for a book I'm contributing to, before realising that someone ese had beaten me to the punch on Maggot Brain. So here it is...]


Maggot Brain (1971)

“Flower children, that’s exactly what we was.”

- Grady Thomas, Parliafunkadelicment vocalist, 1992

Bandleader George Clinton once asked “Who said a funk band can’t rock?” As his Parliament charmed dancefloors with clipped funk and interstellar disco, Clinton’s wilder, messier Funkadelic carved this bitter beast of bleak psychedelia, all apocalyptic paranoia and visions of ecological destruction.

The sleeve conjures the spooked ambience early on, an anguished, afro-ed woman buried to her neck in dust and bones, the gatefold housing a typically oblique political rant credited to the Church Of Final Judgement. The epic opening track was of a similar mood: Clinton told guitarist Eddie Hazel to play like his mother had just died; the resulting wail of sustained anguish Hazel coaxed from his guitar still chills today.

What follows is a mess of acid-fused, gospel-tinged funk-rock, from the molten metal of ‘Super Stupid’, to the stoned and silly ‘Back In Our Minds’, a song in praise of chemically-altered consciousness that featured self-styled ‘environmedian’ J W Jackson on Jew’s Harp. The album ends, fittingly, with the apocalypse. Coming on like a proto-Bomb Squad production, ‘Wars Of Armageddon’ welds dub effects, samples of cows and explosions and farting, and nonsense chants of “More pussy to the people” to ten minutes of electrifying free-groove, a lunatic burst of scatological, drug-fuelled polemic.

Later albums would make the Mothership Connection Clinton dreamt of, establishing his Parliafunkadelicment as a stadium act of legend, but Maggot Brain is evidence of just how fried Funkadelic got along the way, possessed of a visionary madness that endures, infecting and inspiring hip-hop, the Black Rock Coalition (and Fishbone in particular) and many more. Maggot Brain proved that a funk band could indeed rock, and what a twisted, wonderful noise they made.

(c) Stevie Chick 2005

1 comment:

shinanos said...

Thanks for your nice comment to my blog, Stevie :)!

You know, my site is full of unique people...somehow.

Just updated now, 'bout my bad last night's experience...oops.

Shiitake ♪