Wednesday, November 17, 2010

#86 Funkadelic-Maggot Brain


Artist: Funkadelic
Album: Maggot Brain
Label: Westbound
Year: 1971

Maggot Brain is one of those "bridging" records that finds a band in a transitional point in time, bridging their roots and where they were headed in the future. I've always felt that the idea that Funkadelic were some rock-centric (over funk) band to be a bit misguided and embellished because in reality, the last album where they show their rock side is this one--and it was only their third. Even though this is their last rocking album, though, it's still among their best and most cohesive.
Perhaps the reason Maggot Brain works is the diversity. The band still employ drawn-out jams to open and close the record, but instead of dense psychedelic freak-outs like on their first two albums, the instruments and playing are given a lot of space to breathe--most notably with the legendary guitar work on the title track. "Wars of Armageddon" which closes the album is groovy and far-out, but again, not as in your face as this type of song was on the first few albums.
Another strength is that some of the band's best songs ever are here. "Can You Get to That" I've noticed has become a de-facto favorite of many to introduce people to the band, and with good reason. The other songs that make up the middle of the record are catchy, to the point, and diverse.
One of the best parts about the record is the soulfulness as well. It really does a great job at being an R&B record, not necessarily all funk or all 60s soul. This is most evident with some doo-wop sounds that make up the last few songs on the record. The band had begun as a doo-wop group in the mid-1950s, but this is the first time in years that the unit had pulled this out.
Maggot Brain is a tremendous record lastly, because I feel it's their last really great record. While their funk period that followed has its moments, and many would say One Nation Under a Groove is a great record, the best stuff the unit put out after Maggot Brain was through their Parliament moniker. But from the iconic artwork to the wild set of songs, Maggot Brain is an essential album to the P-Funk collective.

Maggot Brain

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