Among guitar aficionados, they don’t come much heavier than acid-drenched enigma Eddie Hazel. A founding father of Funkadelic and responsible for the blazing “Maggot Brain” solo, he released just one album. A concentrated dose of guitar-driven psychedelic soul and loping funk-rock, Game, Dames And Guitar Thangs (1977) was co-produced by George Clinton and features the full Mothership crew. Despite impeccable credentials, the album sank and dropped out of print for years, becoming a sought-after collector’s item for funkateers ever since. Mercifully addressing the dubious legitimacy and quality of previous reissues, Be With Records present a worthy and welcome 180g edition.
Possessing a rare ability to be showy whilst maintaining subtlety, Hazel took Jimi Hendrix’s style to his own new level. Here, his fuzz-tinged wah-fuelled guitar licks shimmer across seven brain-bending tracks, showcasing highly inventive virtuoso playing and searing riffs. The LP famously opens with the most soaring, soulful version of “California Dreamin’” you've ever heard. Eschewing the structure of The Mamas & The Papas’ hit, Hazel slows the pace, adding a pronounced longing to create a truly emotive reworking. Virtually unrecognizable, Hazel’s exquisite arrangement recalled Hendrix’s rendering of Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” and his delicately distorted guitar work propels the track into the stratosphere.
The much-sampled “Frantic Moment” – sumptuous head-nod G-Funk a full 15 years early - is essentially a Parliament song whilst “So Goes The Story” showcases Bootsy Collins’ rubber-band basslines. The incredible, grooved out version of The Beatles’ masterpiece “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” even manages to evoke early Sabbath. Using the original as a template to jam off, he turns the classic sideways into a monster guitar freakout, tossing off lick after lick with enviable nonchalance. The wild “Physical Love” follows, allowing Hazel and the sizzling Bernie Worrell to strut their stuff before funky instrumental “What About It?” ignites pure dance floor fire.
Eddie Hazel was a pioneering guitar genius, but his troubled lifestyle led to a dearth of recorded material that demonstrated his strengths. It’s a wonderful thing, then, that this lost classic is available on vinyl again. Possibly the finest slice of P-Funk you’ve never heard, it’s a record that will make your brain dance and one every funk fan needs.