Sound and Vision: Spooky Psychedelia? Funkadelic's "Maggot Brain"
Juxtapoz Sound and Vision is a weekly segment on our platform dedicated to exploring one piece of substantial album artwork every Sunday. Album artwork is one of the primary ways that musicians and visual artists are able to collaborate, and many iconic album covers are simultaneously iconic pieces of pop art. It’s also an excuse for us to share some of our favorite albums and the visual component behind what makes an album groundbreaking and fun.
April 7th, 2019: Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain
Cover Photo by Joel Brodsky // Design by The Graffiteria/Paula Bisacca // Modeling by Barbara Cheeseborough
George Clinton is one of the most eccentric and simultaneously influential characters in American music. Formerly a staff songwriter for Motown records, he went on to found two bands, Parliament and Funkadelic, each endowed with different sides of the singer-songwriter’s distinct style. His profoundly unique fusion of humor, surreality, psychedelia, science fiction, and funk had an immense impact on the then-fledgling funk genre. In addition to that, legendary figures in hip hop such as Dr. Dre, Tupac Shakur, Nas, Snoop Dogg, and many more have sampled Clinton’s music in their own, reviving his music to the public eye well into the 2000s.
This bizarre, yet masterful talent can be seen front and center on Funkadelic’s 1971 album Maggot Brain. The album begins with an eery monologue and 10-minute guitar solo where Clinton supposedly told guitarist Eddie Hazel to “imagine he had been told his mother had died but then learned that it wasn’t true.” This surreal, palpable type of emotional expression weaves through the entire album, including the album’s cover, which features a photograph of model Barbara Cheeseborough taken by photographer Joel Brodsky. In the photo, Cheeseborough is buried up to her neck and appears to be screaming, with the band and album names printed above and below her head. This outright spooky imagery is enough to get anyone’s attention, leading them on a journey that touches on the sadness, joy, and passion of a landmark funk album.