Song of the Day: Eddie Hazel “California Dreamin'”
The great, though tragically short-lived p-funk guitarist Eddie Hazel, outside of his brilliant work with both Parliament and Funkadelic (including playing the guitar pyrotechnics on the legendary track “Maggot Brain”) found the time to record his own solo album in 1977. The record, Games, Dames and Guitar Thangs is mostly a series of extended guitar jams, featuring Hazel‘s shredding supported by p-funk regulars and produced by none other than George Clinton. That said, the record does include an absolute show-stopper in this truly phenomenal cover of The Mamas & The Papas‘ pop single, “California Dreamin'”. Hazel manages to preserve the essence of the song despite dropping the tempo significantly while opening the song up to extended shredding. As always, Hazel‘s guitar lines positively drip-LSD in their mind-altering qualities. The whole song is mash-up of psychedelic rock, pop, slow-jams and funk. It is also, indisputably, genius.
Eddie Hazel was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1950. He was discovered in 1967 and became the guitarist for George Clinton‘s doo-wop group, The Parliaments. This would later become Parliament and then Funkadelic. Hazel‘s post-Hendrix guitar style was first featured extensively on the 1974 Funkadelic LP, Maggot Brain: particularly on the title-track which was an extended acid jam and which became what Hazel would be best known for. As legend goes, in approaching “Maggot Brain” Clinton infamously told Hazel to “play like your mama just died”. Hazel more than complied and the rest is history. Hazel sadly died in 1992 of liver failure as a result of years of hard living. He had gradually been phased out of Parliament and Funkadelic during the proceeding decade over drug and alcohol problems that would eventually claim his life. A tragic end to a truly gifted and under-recorded figure.