We thought this would be the perfect time to do a My First CD with them, and lucky for us keyboard/synth player, Tommy Grace, was more than happy to tell us which album kickstarted his music collection…
“It took forever for us to get a CD player in the house. All the music I consumed were on cassette tapes (usually mixtapes passed around friends or my sister’s Prince albums), or in my brother’s record collection (disco / house / Velvet Underground / Led Zeppelin) or my dad’s record collection (Beatles / Stones / Incredible String Band / Mother’s of Invention). Even mini-discs were more prevalent in my house than CDs.
By the time we got a CD player I’d accumulated a pretty random collection of borrowed & found albums among compilations you’d get attached to Music mags like Mojo and Q. The real revelation came when I realised I could borrow CDs from my local library and it was there I discovered Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain.
I dunno whether it was the sleeve or the title that got to me first but I recognized the image from club fliers used around town (surely Motherfunk, an Edinburgh mainstay since ’96). Flipping the album over in my hands you get the ‘before and after’ of the sleeve; the skeletal remains of the Earth Mother depicted on the front, presumably after the maggots had filled their boots.
The album begins with this dubbed out monologue from George Clinton, setting the tone:
Mother Earth is pregnant for the third time
For y’all have knocked her up
I have tasted the maggots in the mind of the universe
I was not offended
For I knew I had to rise above it all
Or drown in my own shit
…and then proceeds into a largely unaccompanied, ten minute tortured guitar solo by Eddie Hazel (the story goes that Clinton asked Hazel to play as though his mother had just died and out it popped).
The album is bookended by another ten minute opus, Wars of Armageddon. A sprawling mash of tape loops, cow bell and sound effects (underpinned by Tiki Fulwood’s incredible percussion) that is as overblown as Hazel’s opening solo is sparse and which crescendos until the sound of a nuclear explosion apparently wipes everyone away. Minds Blown.
It hardly reads as a particularly accessible album and yet I lapped it up. I guess there is plenty there to appreciate for someone like me, raised on the likes of Hendrix, Cream and Led Zeppelin, the latter of whom were apparently big fans. The playing is incredible and the production is wild (the drums in You and Your Folks…! The Flexatone in Back In Our Minds!). It remains one of my favourite albums and one that I keep coming back to.”
You can check out Funkadelic’s 1971 album “Maggot Brain” right here, and when you’re done with that we’ve also got Django Django’s latest single/music video ‘Free From Gravity’ which is sure to heighten those anticipation levels.