Saturday, February 14, 2009

February 14: Eddie Hazel, "Game, Dames, And Guitar Thangs"

Artist: Eddie Hazel
Album: Game, Dames, and Guitar Thangs
Year: 1977
Label: Warner Bros.

When it comes to funk, most people consider the bass the most important instrument. During his time with Funkadelic, Eddie Hazel proved that a guitar can be just as essential, culminating with the classic "Maggot Brain." On his only solo record, Game, Dames, and Guitar Thangs, Hazel proves that he is deserving of the title "guitar god."

Game, Dames, and Guitar Thangs is bookended by an extended jam and a quick reprise of the Mama's and Papa's hit, "California Dreamin'." On both, Hazel and his backing band (which includes Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell, and The Brides Of Funkenstein on backing vocals), put a funky, relaxed, groovy spin on the classic. Each band member follows the traditional P-Funk style and explores the groove in their own way throughout each song. If you consider the lineup and the sound, Game, Dames, and Guitar Thangs is very much a more mellow Funkadelic record...without George Clinton (though he is credited as a producer).

Hazel is absolutely blistering on each and every track. Taking the elements of funk, and pushing them to new places. There are times when he is pretty much playing heavy metal. While all of the songs are primarily instrumental jams, don't let the idea scare you from listening. The songs all move and groove and keep your ears and mind active the entire time. Even on the fourteen minute burner, "Lampoc Boogie," (which can only be found on the Rhino re-release) you are simply left in awe by the amazing talent.

There are a few other things of note about Game, Dames, and Guitar Thangs. First off, it is an EXCEPTIONALLY difficult record to find. It was released as a small run, and did not recieve much response from the buying public. There is a 2006 re-release of the record, but finding an original copy of the vinyl is both hard and expensive.

Two other notable things about the record is that Hazel covers a second song, as he puts his spin on the Beatles song, "I Want You (She's So Heavy)." With minimal offense to Beatles fans, Hazel and his band absolutely destroy the song, to a point where one forgets that the Fab Four recorded the original. Also, the popular jam-band Phish ripped off the key groove to their song "Tweezer," from "Phyiscal Love," found on this album.

Parliament, Funkadelic, and all of the various projects led by George Clinton featured fantastic musicians creating the funkiest of grooves. When the primary members (Bootsy, Bernie, Eddie) took time for their own solo projects, many members sat in and it always yielded incredible results. When Eddie Hazel recorded his record, Game, Dames, and Guitar Thangs, he firmly etched his name into the wall of guitar heroes. His playing is sensational and with his backing band being who they are, it is an absolute essential record for all .

Standout tracks: "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," "Pyhsical Love," and "Lampoc Boogie."

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