Half Notes: Eddie Hazel – Game, Dames and Guitar Thangs (1977; 2012 reissue)

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A lost gem by the late, great lead guitarist for Parliament-Funkadelic, Hazel’s 1977 debut album features a trio of well-selected covers set amidst of series of thunderously groovy originals featuring many of his fellow P-Funk All Stars. Highlights include the trippy reverie of Hazel’s take on the Mamas and the Papa’s “California Dreamin,'” then the darkly funky update of John Lennon’s “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” from the Beatles’ Abbey Road. But maybe the best of all is his P-Funk original “Frantic Moment,” a George Clinton-Bootsy Collins-Bernie Worrell composition that begins with this perfectly executed backward-looped freakout before Hazel settles into a furious tip-toeing run through his instrument’s high end — a flurry of notes so fleet that must have shamed even the Isleys. Clinton collaborates with Hazel again on the scorching meltdown “What About It,” something that makes as good a case as any for the guitarist’s underrated genius. Unfortunately, this would be Hazel’s lone release before his death in 1992 — though it has since been followed a number of posthumous projects. Real Gone’s new reissue of Game, Dames and Guitar Thangs, set for February 21, includes a gate-fold wallet CD sleeve and expanded liner notes.

‘Half Notes’ are quick-take thoughts on music from Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us.

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