This isn’t quite a Tracks post but the way it’s going it could well be. This is more of a “how the hell had I missed this?!” post.
My wife and I have been getting back to watching TV lately – well, more bingeing on box sets of Mad Men – after the haze of tiptoeing at night so as not to wake the little man. It gave me a desire to re-watch a bit of House again too and I was watching the episode “The Down Low” and, true to form with that show (there’s an awful lot of good music used there) the tune that played out over the conclusion was a belter. Only thing was I didn’t a) recall the episode or b) know the music – but I sat up in my chair, rewound it so that I could both get the name of the track and hear it again.
It was Maggot Brain by Funkadelic. Spotify was calling.
I mean; holy shit. This is just fucking awesome. I’m gob-smacked I’d not heard this before. To quote Wikipedia “The original recording of the song, over ten minutes long, features little more than a spoken introduction and a much-praised extended guitar solo by Eddie Hazel”. Just listening to it you can hear how many players it influenced, careers it started, bands that owe it their existence. I don’t think it would be a stretch to point to the George Clinton connection and say that the Red Hot Chili Peppers probably owe everything about their music that isn’t Kiedis finding a new rhyme for “Dope dick” to these 10 minutes.
Rolling Stone, in their entry for Eddie Hazel in their 100 Greatest Guitarists list said this:
Legend has it that funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain,” the 10-minute solo that turned the late Eddie Hazel into an instant guitar icon, was born when George Clinton told him to imagine hearing his mother just died – and then learning that she was, in fact, alive. Hazel, who died of liver failure in 1992 at age 42, brought a thrilling mix of lysergic vision and groove power to all of his work, inspiring followers like J Mascis, Mike McCready and Lenny Kravitz. “That solo – Lord have mercy!” says Kravitz of “Maggot Brain.” “He was absolutely stunning.”
Gotta be thankful for the ‘digital age’ of music here – otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to have heard the full thing by now (I watched that episode on Saturday) or found this version with Pearl Jam (and the RHCP’s Chad Smith on drums) seguing from Little Wing into Maggot Brain.
So… Right now, I’m stuck on this: