Submitted by wtanz t3_10lyvaf in Music

One of the significant discourses I see online about music is about the best guitar solo of all time, and I'm always disappointed about the answer. Now I would admit I am a bigger fan of Psychedelic jam than the average joe, but it always confounds me that I see songs like Don't Stop Me Now or Hotel California which are great songs with great guitar, but they don't deserve to be on the best guitar solo list.

But through all of my digging of "Best Guitar Solos" rankings on the internet, there is one song that IS the best guitar solo of all time but is never talked about; Maggot brain. It was released by a band called Funkadelic in 1971 and is 10 minutes of guitar perfection. I can't describe what makes this song so goddamn good, but if you listened to it, you know. But for the people that have not, I'll try to convince you.

The song was recorded in one take after George Clinton told Eddie Hazel (the lead guitarist for Funkadelic) to play "like he just watched his mother die, but then found out she was still alive," while tripping on LSD. The best part of the song BY FAR is the emotion behind the playing, there are a few songs in my life I cried while listening to, and this is one of them. The raw anger, sadness, and emotion behind this song are mind-blowing and dwarf practically any song ever made without lyrics.

For me, music is what keeps me sane. During COVID or challenging times, I could rely on music to get me through and make me a better person. My biggest complaint with music today is the emotion that I hold so dear is gone. Instead, there are cold, bare, by-the-books pop songs that feel like cash grabs, not music. It's okay if you like that kind of music, I'm not saying you can't like music if it's simple. However, if it's the only music you listen to, and you have never given songs like Maggot Brain a chance, you should broaden your music tastes a bit.



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Urc0mp t1_j619vrh wrote

I literally see maggot brain on every best guitar solo thread. So much so that I thought you were going to go the other direction and call it overrated.


chiefwinamac t1_j5ztpl5 wrote

Agree but respectfully this is a very agreeable take in this sub.


HamiltonBlack t1_j60m20f wrote

Is Maggot Brain a solo though? It's the entire song. It's a composition.

I agree it's phenomenal and Maggot Brain the album is one of my favorites, but when discussing guitar solos I think people mean the 20-30 second tear in the middle of a song.

Maggot Brain is a piece as much as Bach or Beethoven


hobelf42 t1_j614n5v wrote

Guitar Sonata no. 1 in E Minor, Opus 40, Edward E. Hazel


SteveCake t1_j62t2g9 wrote

Maggot Brain is not a solo. It's an instrumental with a guitar as the lead, like a jazz song with a sax as the lead instrument. That said, most people don't know or care about the difference and even some musicians will argue the point. Either way, Maggot Brain is fantastic.


DevinBelow t1_j5zzfj9 wrote

It's a legendary song. Not too much to add other than what you said.

If you want to check out an interesting cover, listen to the last song on Mike Watt's 1995 album "Ballhog or Tugboat", which features J Mascis from Dinosaur Jr doing the guitar solo and Bernie Worrell (from Funkadelic) on the keys...and Watt on bass. It's a real dirty version. Check out that whole album though if you want an amazing combination of 90's musicians all in one place (Frank Black, Eddie Vedder, Evan Dando, Mark Lanegan, Mike D, and a lot more), but that Maggot Brain is a cool version.


AgentFlatweed t1_j600w27 wrote

Mike Watt’s 90’s solo stuff is so so so slept on. Contemplating the Engine Room is one of the best concept albums that no one ever talks about.


stonabus t1_j6276nf wrote

Technically Walking the Cow is a fIRHOSE song, but I count is as a Watt gem.


MDS1138 t1_j60k0b4 wrote

Love this record. It is a cavalcade of alt-rock icons from that era. Some great Nels Cline guitar playing on several tracks.


el_taco_guapo t1_j62ej00 wrote

I was a Firehose fan back in the day and first heard Maggot Brain on Watt’s album. I knew of Mascis but never knew this was even a cover….for like 20 years. I love the song .

Speaking of covers: don’t sleep on Built To Spill’s cover of Young’s Cortez the Killer. Definitely in my personal top 5


Jackalope1974 t1_j601zq1 wrote

This. I became aware of the song from this album and thought it was amazing. Then I heard the original.

The kids of today should defend themselves against the 70’s.


moonofsilver t1_j626329 wrote

Holy cow. I randomly came to this subreddit looking for some music recs, said "Oh cool, a thread about Maggot Brain", not realizing it was a song (just an album). Started listening to this song, was like "Oh interesting, this isn't like Hit It And Quit It". Couple of minutes in, I was thinking it sounded really, really familiar, but couldn't place it, so passed it off. Couple minutes later, came back to this thread and saw your comment about J Mascis.

I have not listened to Ball Hog or Tugboat in FOREVER!!! That is crazy. Like, probably 20 years. And I got it the year it came out, didn't know 75% of the names/acts associated, but loved it, how weird, eclectic, but still how good it was. And then I would get to this track that was just a massive guitar solo from some guy I had never heard of, and think "oh, thats weird, it's JUST a guitar solo", but would almost always listen to it all the way through. Never new it was a cover. Thank you and OP for introducing me this great song, and trip down memory lane 😁


suffaluffapussycat t1_j68orcq wrote

I got hired by Capitol Records to get photos of Foo Fighters at their first official gig at The Palace in L.A. where they were opening for Mike Watt. I got there and Mike had declared no photo passes. So bummed. I love that album.


SixthHouseScrib t1_j602gxq wrote

This is always agreed to be like top 5.

Comfortably numb tho....


DrunkTING7 t1_j61e5rj wrote

i think the solo on time is far far better than comfortably numb, even tho i prefer the wall as an album by a country mile


SixthHouseScrib t1_j61esbu wrote

I'm not even going to disagree with that good point


DrunkTING7 t1_j61eyxe wrote

wait… is this some kind of villainous sarcasm or genuine agreement im completely incapable of understanding tone over text


mikeldmv t1_j61mgu7 wrote

Everyone and their mother has this song in their top 10 though. You want unappreciated perfection, look up Santana Live at the Fillmore ‘68. The entire show is just immaculate. But never in my life have I heard anyone bring up how incredible Chunk a Funk is, or tell me to check out Freeway, or listen to his cover of As the Years Go Passing By.

Not only that, but his solos in much lesser known songs from his first few albums like Guajira and Taboo are also worthy of mention, imo. And as a lover of Maggot Brain myself, I would highly suggest checking out Latin Tropical and Flame-Sky. Both 10 minutes plus with similar vibes.

Even though Santana’s name commands such respect in the guitar world, people often don’t do enough to appreciate the quality pf some of his individual work imo.


Salty_Pancakes t1_j6219me wrote

For me, Caravanserai is my Santana go-to. Pre Journey Neal Schon on there. Put your headphones on, put that album and then open your eyes after the album ends.


mikeldmv t1_j632jpa wrote

Can’t argue with that. I prefer the intensity of the early albums and compositions, but I think he’s continued to make good music his whole life. I’ve only come to fully appreciate a lot of it recently to be honest, including Caravanserai and some of his other more mellow stuff


MuddPuddleOfPain t1_j62ch7r wrote

Maggot Brain is and has always been talked about as one of the best guitar solos of all time.


Mrofcourse t1_j5zu7uh wrote

I think Maggot brain falls to the wayside in these discussions because of the player. Eddie Hazel was an amazing player but outside of maggot brain there’s not much else where his skills are showcased. I listened to everything he played after I heard maggot brain for the first time and nothing else came close, kinda similar to being s one hit wonder. Bucket head is probably one of the closest artists to emulate this sound imo.


km_j3825 t1_j602450 wrote

Have you checked out his solo stuff too or the couple songs he did with Axiom Funk?

Assuming you haven't and for any others reading this.. his album Games Dames and Guitar Thangs is *chefs kiss *. Turned the originally psychedelic I Want You (She's so Heavy) into a funky bop, what more could you ask for?!

From Axiom Funk, their song Pray My Soul kinda reminds me of parts of Maggot Brain a little bit but the song's only half as long lol


p5ych0babble t1_j619hzt wrote

Crazy to hear someone call him a one hit wonder. I also really like the Ruth Copeland records he played on.


Mrofcourse t1_j60qsgc wrote

I can’t remember what I listened to but I remember going pretty deep down the rabbit hole


1stcoast t1_j626ktm wrote

Physical love & So goes the story are good tracks on that album(games and dames)


wtanz OP t1_j5zvf0d wrote

I agree. Eddie Hazel is not the best guitarist of all time. But, I think it would be hard for any musician to make a song as good as Maggot Brain. It's like asking an artist to recreate the Mona Lisa.


Mrofcourse t1_j5zx2d1 wrote

Yeah I forgot who said it but there was a guitarist who said he could play every Hendrix song and solo note for note identically but he still can’t imagine how he came up with it.


pip-roof t1_j61hmiy wrote

Hazel is for sure top five but hendrix said billy gibbons was the man. I love the solo for joe blues and just got paid. Not nearly as long as maggot brain but I love the way he plays. Bonnamassa blues deluxe is a good one too. All great stuff. Like asking who has the best anything.


hexenkesse1 t1_j60k6ww wrote

I really enjoy the Widespread Panic cover of this, with Houser on guitar.


delirio91 t1_j629nlf wrote

Eddie Hazel is underrated by the masses. Not that they want to, they just don't know.


gaettisrevenge t1_j5zz0vg wrote

The live cover by Banyan with Nels Cline on guitar is pretty amazing, too.


Xizen47 t1_j602fed wrote

Saw them do that a few times live!


FredHowl t1_j60j5qi wrote

Eric Gales does an insane version too. Best guitar player alive right now, imo.


Fidelio62 t1_j625vbl wrote

I only know of Banyan from “La sirena.” A stinkin’ lovely tune.


MileenasFeet t1_j615kpb wrote

To me the best guitar solo is most definitely The Star Spangled Banner by Jimi Hendrix.

A lot of people will talk about their favorite concerts and I think Jimi live at Woodstock is one of the best live performances ever captured. It also showed how much of a powerhouse Jimi was on the guitar and how much he commanded the stage.


Your_Product_Here t1_j63ronr wrote

The context of his playing the Star Spangled Banner is what makes it truly legendary.

He didn't go on until 9am Monday, most of the crowd had gone back to their daily lives at that point after 4 days of Armageddon that was Woodstock, apparently the band did not know he was going to play it hence the sporadic accompaniment, then there's the Vietnam fuckin' war...

All the chaos that he includes is no accident and is a stark political statement. Those are the whistles of bombs dropping, people's cries, alarms sounding. He also throws Taps in. He tells a whole story via an instrumental.


uzuzab t1_j60lbwg wrote

Heavily influenced by Maggot Brain, and flawlessly executed: Sun Goes Down, by The Main Squeeze


wtanz OP t1_j60wd2n wrote

Thanks for the recommendation! I'll check it out


Scotchie t1_j61524d wrote

Also..John Frusciante, Before The Beginning


rocketsauce2112 t1_j61ywvp wrote

I think it's pretty well-recognized as an amazing guitar solo. Personally, if we're talking about guitar solos that were on commercially released albums, I think Jerry Garcia's "Dark Star" solo on Live/Dead by The Grateful Dead is the best guitar solo of all time. I could listen to that over and over again until the end of time.


Fidelio62 t1_j6228pb wrote

Obligatory mention of John Frusciante’s homage to this song as “Before the Beginning,” also a 9-minute solo/composition.


CB2001 t1_j62rxjx wrote

Free your mind, and your ass will follow….


Hensroth t1_j60g3ih wrote

Polyphonic released a video about the track a couple months ago


myleftone t1_j60otph wrote

Interesting timing. I saw a 15yo kid play parts of this with a looper at an open mic last night. All jaws on the floor. I had to cross out whatever the previous damndest thing I ever saw was.

Guaranteed, that kid is gonna be known.

(Edit: his dad was a regular and pals with the host)


NewYorkImposter t1_j61susx wrote

My guitar teacher (who is a guitar legend in his own right) got me to listen to that song back when I was learning with him


shr2016 t1_j61z5hl wrote

Big fan of the original ofc, but the alternate mix is my fave


Naive_Wolf3740 t1_j6204or wrote

On the web series Guitar Moves, Dean Ween talked about how all his guitar solos are basically all based off of 2 different solos he loves. One of them was Maggot Brain.


stonabus t1_j626szj wrote

The song is overrated and monotonous. Maybe three minutes of it are good. Also, why does everyone mess up the story about how it was recorded? It’s almost as bad as the “Hendrix was asked who his favorite guitarist was on the Dick Cavett show and his answer was______”


stonabus t1_j62ba36 wrote

That’s an impossible question to answer. Off the top of my head I would say Bodhisattva by Steely Dan (guitarist was Denny Dias) Ask me again in five minutes and I’ll have a different answer.


SweetJ138 t1_j633yak wrote

"...or drown in my oooooown shit-t-t-t-t-t-t"

maggot brain is special, do doubt about that. <3


WhiskyAtNoon t1_j636koe wrote

Dude its so fun to jam around on the backing track too


bonesofelvis2410 t1_j6372a5 wrote

The best guitar solo you will ever hear is the one whenever you hear it and no matter how many times you hear it...will always give you shivers.


intenseskill t1_j637xe4 wrote

About 5 years ago I was watching House MD and in the episode I was watching they played this absolute awesome guitar solo song that was just dripping with emotion. I looked it up and found out it was Maggotbrain.

It is one of the songs that inspired me to learn guitar.

I love it, right now as I type the backing track played by me is saved on my loop pedal for me to solo over or just practice playing the maggotbrain solo. But I am still a beginner at guitar but I am getting better everyday.


wastelander78 t1_j63a11h wrote

It's meh too me. Satriani or Vai are world's better.


sixtyfoursqrs t1_j63kwou wrote

Satriani and Vai are both great musicians with some amazing solo work. Now Take away the 40 years of technological advances in recording and effects. It may even the playing field for you.


wastelander78 t1_j63mi9o wrote

Effects have been used since the sixties


sixtyfoursqrs t1_j64fk7x wrote

True but nothing like what’s available today. It’s all a matter of taste tbh. I love all guitar oriented music anyway. Prog Rock is my go to, but I respect it all.


Known-Watercress7296 t1_j63c6bh wrote

It's decent but very well recognized for what it is with little need for a rant.

I'm a fan of the solo on Further Than We've Gone by Beefheart, whilst Beefheart gets recognition for being a genius that album doesn't get much attention....honestly don't even know who plays the solo, zoot?, but it doesn't really matter, Beefheart seems to play the guitar via other people.

Also, Sonny Sharrock is a fucking god on the axe, been blasting Ask The Ages & Black Woman for the past few days and I think I've got a new favourite guitarist.


monkey-pi t1_j63khuw wrote

If you like this, Ween's tribute "A Tear For Eddie" is a must.


akimvo_slice t1_j63vff4 wrote

Thank you for getting me interested in checking out this song, I will listen to it later today after I'm done with school. If you are into guitar that is full of emotion, then I'd suggest you check out Machine Gun by Jimi Hendrix live at the Fillmore East January 1st 1970. This is my favorite guitar solo of all time (this is coming from a HUGE guitar nerd lol), and I really think one could make a case for it being the best guitar solo of all time (although I know that is subjective at the end of the day).

In this solo, he expresses anger, despair, sadness, rage and all in between. It is the pinnacle of guitar improvisation. In addition, if you take into account the context, it becomes 10x better. It was during the Vietnam war, and this was Hendrix's protest against it. I highly recommend everyone reading this to go check it out. It will not disappoint.


lordbub t1_j64ki1t wrote

this just in, music fan thinks they're special for liking an incredibly popular song and complaining about modern music. more at 6


jazzdr t1_j64mchf wrote

Love Maggot Brain and Eddy Hazel but fir me best solo is Duane Allman on Boz Scaggs' LOAN ME A DIME.


Rekordkollector t1_j603ugd wrote

Th lp version is poor compared to the single version. Plus its just an American version of what Hawkwind were doing a year before.