Most Wanted! Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (Westbound Records)
Damn it! This piece of music has such a meaning to us here on IDMW. First, because we do consider it as a manifesto. And second because we wrote this review to coincide with what would sadly be Bernie Worell‘s last Birthday back on Apr. 19, 2016.
Thereafter, what we happened to write at the time…
A native of Long Branch, NJ, Bernie Worrell happened to be much of a prodigy. Starting to get lessons in music by the early age of 3 and writing a concerto 5 years later. He joined Chubby & The Turnpikes (later to be known as Tavares) by the beginning of the 70’s. Then he met George Clinton who was the leader of the then Doo-Wop group The Parliaments which were to give birth to Funkadelic and Parliament. Playing grand piano, Wurlitzer electric piano and Moog synthesizer with them, among others. And eventually writing many rhythm and horn arrangements on their numerous classics.
He would more or less remain in the shadow though on the title cut (‘Maggot Brain’) of Funkadelic‘s third studio album. A collection that saw the light back in 1971. With Eddie Hazel who was to soon after leavin’ the band taking the centerstage. On what stands as one of the most incredible guitar solos (recorded in one take) in the history of contemporary music. An apocalypse on its own inbetween Psychedelic, Ambient and Rock vibes. This in a vein one could find in the repertoire of bands such as The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Santana and Neil Young. If not The Isley Brothers to a lesser extend…
Diagnosed with with stage-four lung cancer last January, a tribute and benefit concert to raise funds for his cancer treatment has been held on Apr. 04 and 05 2016. Produced by the Black Rock Coalition and featuring musicians with whom he has worked over his career.
Bernie Worrell sadly died a few weeks after, aged 72, in Everson, WA on June 24, 2016.
Now with the time, we would come up with a bunch of extra things. Beginning with the fact that ‘Maggot Brain’ happened to be so avant-gardist for the time being. Miles away from what Rolling Stone reviewer Vince Aletti wrote at the end. Sayin’ about ‘Maggot Brain’ that it was “a collection of competently performed but uninteresting and lyrically-thin funk songs…” Although so close (‘Maggot Brain’) – at least in the spirit – to the Rolling Stones ‘2000 Light Years From Home’. A cut which saw the light back in 1967…
Kinda hard figuring George Clinton gave birth to Funkadelic with the aim to target a Rock audience. Even though the psychedelic ‘Maggot Brain’ tends to be the proof of that. The unnamed backing section of George Clinton‘s Doo-Wop group The Parliaments while on tour, Funkadelic saw the light by the mid 60’s.
Eventually signing their first record deal with Westbound Records in 1968. And counting Sly Stone and Jimi Hendrix among their major influences… Funkadelic first came up with a hard guitar-driven mix of Psychedelic Rock, Soul and Funk. Thus designated as a more experimental and freestyle guitar-based Funk band in comparison with twin group Parliament. With the latter using the same line-up of talents as a matter of fact. Although geared towards a more mainstream Funk dominated by soulful vocals and horn arrangements.
Funkadelic saw the arrival of an impressive array of talents along with its evolution. From Bootsy Collins to Bernie Worrell and Eddie Hazel. But also Thomas Grady and Clarence ‘Fuzzy’ Haskins to name a few. The group pretty much reached their peak by the end of the 70’s. At a time they’d already switched from Westbound to Warner. Scoring their biggest successes with ‘One Nation Under A Groove’, the title track of their 1978 album of the likes. Then the year after with ‘(Not Just) Knee Deep’ from their ‘Uncle Jam Wants You’ album. A cut featuring former Spinners lead singer Philippé Wynne. Meanwhile ‘Atomic Dog’, although recorded by the band, would finally appear in 1982 on the Clinton‘s ‘Computer Games’ album for Capitol.
Homeless after the release of their ‘The Electric Spanking Of War Babies’ album on Warner back in 1981, Funkadelic eventually resurfaced 13 years after. This on Japanese label P-Vine with the ‘Parliament – Funkadelic, P-Funk All Stars – Presents Dope ‘ album.
‘First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate’, their last album to date, saw the light back in 2014. A 3CD set which featured luminaries such as Sly Stone, Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker. Not to mention Del Tha Funkee Homosapien and Nu-Disco famous Soul Clap. With the latter releasing ‘In Da Kar’ featuring Sly Stone on their Soul Clap Records label. And Louie Vega eventually remixing the boiling ‘Ain’t That Funkin Kinda Hard On You?’ which we welcomed as our Single Of The Week at the time…