Eddie Hazel

Game, Dames, and Guitar Thangs

Real Gone

Apr 23, 2012 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Though he earned his place as perhaps the best guitarist of funk's golden era, you have to wonder about what could have been. Plagued by many of the drug and personal issues that all too often inhibited many great artists of the era, Eddie Hazel's 1977 record Game, Dames, and Guitar Thangs was the only full album the former Funkadelic guitarist released under his own name in his lifetime. Promptly deleted after its release and out-of-print until the mid-'00s, the long-underheard record built a word-of-mouth reputation as a lost classic amongst P-Funk diehards and fans of far-out guitar rock.

Now freshly reissued, Guitar Thangs mostly lives up to the high regards it's been held in, full of the blistering, wah wah-heavy guitar work that made his extended "Maggot Brain" guitar jam a highlight in the Funkadelic catalog. Produced by George Clinton, Guitar Thangs also features appearance from many regulars in the P-Funk family, including Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell (on "Physical Love"), and The Brides of Funkenstein, whose vocals are featured on a cover of The Beatles' "I Want You (She's So Heavy)." The latter song is drawn out to nearly 10 minutes, the melody rolling at a slightly faster clip than in the Fab Four original, before opening up into long form soloing from Hazel and some excellent interplay with Collins on bass. Another cover, this one of The Mamas & the Papas' "California Dreamin'," both kicks off and reprises the album. Hazel turns it into an urgent piece of soul music, with vocals full of longing and a moody, delay-filled guitar breakdown. The originals aren't quite as good as the covers, but the extended instrumental stretches that make up a lot of them leave plenty of room for the musicianship to really shine. (www.realgonemusic.com

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