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Eddie Hazel was one of the original founding members of the bands Funkadelic and Parliament and was one of the most influential funk musicians of the era. His life was sadly cut short due to drug use. He died in 1992 aged just 42. His most memorable contribution was undoubtedly his ten minute guitar masterpiece "Maggot Brain" which featured as the title track on the Funkadelic's third album which was released in 1971 to critical acclaim. Although he left the group in late 1971 he contributed on a few more Funkadelic albums before working with The Temptations with former Funkadelic band-mate Billy Nelson. Sadly his life spiraled into drug fueled crime for assaults whilst under the influence of various drugs. On December 23, 1992, Hazel died from internal bleeding and liver failure and his most well known track "Maggot Brain" was played at his funeral by Michael Hampton who replaced Hazel as the bands lead guitarist.
**Game, Dames And Guitar Thangs**
This was the only album released by Eddie Hazel during his life. It features seven tracks with three covers of memorable songs from the era. It was released in 1977 and features collaborations with some of his band-mates including Bootsy Collins and Billy Nelson as well as vocals from two female vocalists who were as follows Lynn Mabry & Dawn Silva and the male vocals come from Gary Cooper. The covers are as follows covers, "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" (originally recorded by The Beatles), "California Dreamin'" (first recorded by The Mamas & the Papas), and "Physical Love" (originally recorded by Bootsy's Rubber Band).
1.) California Dreamin
This opens the album off with a cover of the famous Mamas & Papas track which tells the story of a man in a cold winter landscape longing for the warmth of California. This version is wonderfully performed with some funky guitar licks from the off with some gentle piano. The track soon gets into it's stride and Eddie Hazel's guitar work is superb. The vocals start from Gary Cooper and throughout the track Lynn Mabry and Dawn Silva provide excellent backing vocals. This track has been covered extensively but for me this is the greatest version around. Eddie Hazel really gets to let loose on the guitar to create a wonderful sound. Superb Musicianship for all musicians here and not just the obvious from Eddie Hazel.
2.) Frantic Moment
This track is one of the shorter ones on the album and opens with a funky bass lick and some light intricate guitar tones from Hazel. The vocals are from Dawn Silva and Lynn Mabry and they both sound strong both together and individually. Eddie Hazel's guitar work runs along in the background of the vocals. Whilst the guitar work isn't as instant as on the opener it is still a fine example of his talent on this excellent little track which was written by George Clinton, Bootsy Collins & Bernie Worrell .
3.) So Goes the Story
This is a fabulous track. It's a lovely soulful song with some smooth vocals and some really superb guitar work from Eddie Hazel. The track was written by George Clinton, Bootsy Collins & Eddie Hazel. The bass guitar from Collins is funky and the guitar work from Hazel is much like the overall feel of this track, like it's a jamming session he just goes off with a wonderfully vibrant guitar solo. I love the catchy feel of the bass guitar and drum beat with the vibrancy of the guitar work from Eddie Hazel.
4.) I Want You
This is a terrific version of The Beatles track from "Abbey Road", I'm not a big fan of The Beatles and one of the main reasons Is I have heard so many far better covers of their songs and this is undeniably one of those. It's a stunning track which features smooth vocal harmonies, Fine musicianship (far better than the original) & THAT guitar work from Eddie Hazel which pins with the bass guitar to create a truly wonderful sound. This track is in terms of quality the same as Maggot Brain. It's another stunning epic track which lasts for nine minutes and 27 seconds which is around a minute longer than the original. Eddie Hazel's version is Far superior in every way to the original. Absolutely superb.
5.) Physical Love
This is the third longest track on the album at nearly five and a half minutes and is a lovely soulful funk track with a punchy beat and some excellent bass hooks from Bootsy Collins and Billy Nelson. Eddie Hazel's guitar doesn't soar until a while in but when it does he provides yet another fine solo. The track was written by George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Gary Cooper & Garry Shider. This track features some fine bass guitar work and some interesting keyboard sounds which were experimental in their day. An excellent track which has another jam session feel.
6.) What About It?
This is a collaboration between George Clinton & Eddie Hazel and is a fast paced Funk Soul joint which features some hard drumming and some excellent riffing from the bass and Eddie Hazel's guitar. This shows something a little different and it really works well with Eddie Hazel showing off a soaring guitar solo which is excellent and benefits from the backing of the punchy drum and melodic bass guitar tones. This is an excellent instrumental track.
7.) California Dreamin
This is a short reprise of the opener and features some vibrant bass work and some smooth vocal harmonies from Lynn Mabry & Dawn Silva. This track gives the feeling of an encore at a live concert when they come back on for a bit but don't play the whole song. It's a nice little addition to the album and in this case seven is better than six.
This is an album that is a must for Funkadelic fans and if you like guitar music from the 70s then give this a go, It features some outsanding guitar work, fine vocal harmonies and despite there being little in the way of lyrics it certainly doesn't lack emotive feeling. Eddie Hazel could have been so much bigger in terms of popularity and standing if it hadn't been for his drug problems and untimely death at the age of 42. There are few guitarists who could get across feelings in a musical way but Eddie Hazel was one of the finest. This is a superb if a little short album which gives you an indication of not only what a fine musician he was but also how good Funkadelic were musically as many of his band-mates contributed to this album.
"Dames, Games and Guitar Thangs" came as the debut album from Eddie Hazel early in 1977. The Parliament-Funkadelic artist was finally able to put out solo work (after nearly ten years working as part of both the two main George Clinton-led Funk acts. It was the only album put out by him while he was alive (dying of liver failure in 1994) and finds that both he and Clinton plays roles in production, and the likes of Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell, and Garry Shider all step up to back him up in the band. In a change to the contemporary P-Funk works, Hazel takes things back to their past in Psychedelic Rock.
1. "California Dreamin'"
The album gets off to a great start as we're offered a nice and funky cover version of The Mamas & The Papas song of the same name. It sets things off nicely as we're offered an impressive mostly-instrumental work that I felt really gave a great indication of what he was like as an artist (as opposed to what you get with Parliament-Funkadelic) as he takes things back to where they began.
2. "Frantic Moment"
As we find ourselves moving off a lengthy 6-minute-long introductory track, the music moves on towards something taking on a bit of a different feel to the first. With this one we get a very funky tune and one which does well to combine the experimental Funk days in around the '74-'75 with the contemporary sound to make for a great sound which really shows what exactly the artist is about as a musician.
3. "So The Theory Goes"
I was impressed by the way this one's put together. On it we get the sort of guitar riff running through it that was heard in the very early Funkadelic work and this is combined with Eddie hazel letting his emotions out while he gets loose with his guitar and takes the lead with the thing as if he's going for a guitar solo (but with the rest of the instruments still there for support as he does so).
4. "I Want You"
This track lasts well over nine minutes and so is one that stands out for its lengthy duration. We see that for this tune Hazel opts to perform another cover and in this case he goes for a little something from The Beatles. He does a good job at manipulating the material in order to escape the original format and take on much more of a Psychedelic Rock one in which things sound very free and give him the ability to bring in a Bluesy feel - as The Beatles actually intended it to be.
5. "Physical Love"
On this one you can tell that things have got a real P-Funk feel to them. When you're made aware that Bootsy, Clinton, Garry Shider, Gary Cooper and the guitarist himself all had a part in putting it together, it makes sense that this one sounds to be an updated version of some of the things which P-Funk explored in earlier years when they weren't too sure of where their music was going - prior to a point when the Funk format was something you could just follow to make hits such as this one from Bootsy Collins Rubber Band.
6. "What About It?"
The album ends here (before a reprise of the opener) with a tune which seems to take things in a bit of a different direction as the freaky way that things are put together shows that he's much more aware of where the Funk world was going at the time. This is a killer tune and just what you'll want to hear if you were into P-Funk's more successful hits from this time; but just done in an instrumental form.
7. "California Dreamin'" (Reprise)
I was impressed by what's found on this album. I felt that this one was more for the guitar lover's than your typical Funk fan of this time. If you were into the earlier works of the act then this will appeal to your tastes as this is exactly where he goes with it as he reminds us of his guitar work on "Maggot Brain" and especially its titular track.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 California Dreamin'
2 Frantic Moment
3 So Goes The Story
4 I Want You (She's So Heavy)
5 Physical Love
6 What About It
7 California Dreamin'