Source Material: Funkadelic, Maggot Brain
by Justin Farrar | August 31, 2011
Recently, I scoured the song catalogs for the video games Rock Band and Guitar Hero. Both contain gobs of questionable selections, including indie fluff by The Strokes and even teen pop from Aly & AJ. What I didn't find is a single Funkadelic tune. Maybe I'm overreacting, but I feel like this means mainstream rock fans no longer consider them to be top-tier rock gods. Tell me I'm wrong. Please!
For me, as well as so many rock fans who grew up in the 1970s, '80s and early '90s, Funkadelic were considered one of music's most badass groups, and Eddie Hazel one of the all-time great guitarists. When I first got into classic psychedelia and hard rock, sitting down and cranking Maggot Brain, particularly the mind-melting 10-minute title track, was a rite of passage every bit as fundamental as blasting Paranoid, Led Zeppelin II and Machine Head. It didn't matter one bit if their music was considered funk by some, or that they weren't the same color as most other bands. They rocked.
I'm sure Flea, Mike Patton, Joe Walsh, Vernon Reid, Wayne Coyne, Robert Plant, H.R., Mike Watt, Greg Ginn, Ozzy, Tom Morello, Joe Carducci, Eddie Vedder and so many others would all agree with me: Funkadelic's imprint is d-e-e-p. By the mid-'70s, their unique and often freaky fusion of brute strength, acid-rock distortion and spine-snapping syncopation had influenced many of the major heavy metal, boogie and Southern rock bands in America and the U.K. This carried into the next decade, with punk, post-punk, No Wave, noise rock, funk metal and especially grunge all carrying numerous Funkadelic chromosomes in their double helices. Mind you, this goes for both sound and image (for the latter, see The Flaming Lips and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.) I love Neil Young to death, but the title "Godfather of Grunge" is wildly overinflated. All those Seattle dudes were also rolling jazz cigarettes to the twisted sounds of Maggot Brain; you can hear it in their sense of groove.
What makes Funkadelic's omission from the video-game genre particularly egregious is the fact that their impact, however indirect these days, is still super potent. But I guess all these nü metal, groove metal and metalcore bands no longer have any idea where their rhythms ultimately come from. But enough indignancy. After checking out the albums below, which should help contextualize the environment into which this amazing record was born, please explore my Source Material: Funkadelic, Maggot Brain playlist.
Can you get to that? I wanna know...