On additional than a few dozen virtuosic, style-blurring studio albums introduced from 1970 to 1982, George Clinton and the customers of his rollicking Parliament-Funkadelic collective shaped the spine and shook loose the booty of contemporary groove. Formed by singers in the orbit of a New Jersey barbershop in 1955, the team commenced as a Frankie Lymon and the Teens-type doo-wop act in advance of leaning into Detroit soul. Eventually they absorbed the lifestyle of the late ’60s like sponges.
The Parliaments reworked from a Motown-aspiring, matching-tie-and-handkerchief vocal team into tripped-out hippies in bell bottoms, headdresses and the occasional American flag diaper. They were turned on by psychedelic rockers like Jimi Hendrix and Product they hung out with punks like the MC5 and the Stooges they loved Black Power, totally free like and underground comics. “Free your head and your ass will observe,” they famously sang. “The kingdom of heaven is inside.”
Even so, Funkadelic’s third album, “Maggot Mind,” wasn’t a Technicolor romp. It was the seem of the Woodstock dream deferred. The band emerged screaming from the shadows solid by Vietnam, the racial uprisings in their old dwelling of New Jersey and their new dwelling in Detroit, a heroin epidemic, poverty, Kent Point out and the demise of Hendrix himself, whose passing was rife with symbolism.
The album arrived 50 years back, in July 1971, throughout a summer time bookended by the launch of two other formidable masterworks of protest-soul: the introspective reportage of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and the brooding disillusionment of Sly and the Family Stone’s “There’s a Riot Goin’ On.” But “Maggot Brain” exists in a distinct astral aircraft. It is unleashed id refracted by way of the lens of LSD: 36 minutes of swirling jams, apocalyptic seem effects, major metal riffs, hard funk and lyrical mash-ups of the Beatles and Martin Luther King Jr. The album art is provocative — a screaming Black lady outside the house the gatefold, and inside, textual content from the Course of action Church of the Ultimate Judgment, the religious group rumored to have ties to Charles Manson.
The function that Clinton and his band produced in the upcoming decade would rework the base of contemporary hip-hop: You couldn’t convert on a radio in the ’90s without the need of hearing a gradual-rolling rap tune built on a P-Funk sample. But “Maggot Brain” retains a exceptional position of impact between rock bands, R&B songwriters and jazz artists thanks to its Blacker-than-Sabbath atmospheres and transcendent soloing. In 2021, its legacy is felt even more robust, in the ever-evolving protest audio of artists like Kendrick Lamar, D’Angelo, Solange and Brittany Howard.
Here’s an audio tutorial to the album’s seven tracks, furthermore what arrived in advance of, and what arrived soon after.
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