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Eddie Hazel : Game, Dames and Guitar Thangs

Among P-Funk fanatics and guitar connoisseurs in general, Eddie Hazel is a legend. His psychedelic yet soulful style, best typified by 1971's "Maggot Brain," led many to believe he would carry on the legacy of Jimi Hendrix, who died shortly after Hazel rose to prominence with Funkadelic.   

And while Hazel was a central figure with early Funkadelic, particularly on Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On, where he wrote every song, a number of problems that can be traced to drug addiction  ultimately caused his role to diminish as the group became more popular throughout the Seventies. He continued to make infrequent appearances with the group until his death in 1992, but remained best known for his work from 1970 - 1975.

Which is where Game, Dames And Guitar Thangs comes in. Issued by Warner Brothers in 1977, it was the only album released under Hazel's name during his lifetime and considered one of the holy grails of funk due to its rarity. After nearly 30 years of having to rely on bootlegs, poor-quality tapes or wishful dreams, Hazel's solo album is finally available on disc for all to enjoy. 

Game offers none of the thematic storylines or compelling characters of other P-Funk releases. Its intention is to simply spotlight Eddie's skills, making this perhaps the most purely "musical" album in the P-Funk canon. The record's centerpieces are two of the unlikeliest covers you will hear: "California Dreaming" and "I Want You (She's So Heavy)." With able assistance from a cast that includes Bootsy Collins, the Brides of Funkenstein, Jerome Brailey, and Bernie Worrell, Hazel just goes off and takes these numbers to another plane, especially on "I Want You," which is transformed into an apex of funk ecstasy.      

The other numbers naturally pale in comparison but are noteworthy, with the possible exception of "Physical Love," which sounds just like the version on Bootsy's Stretchin' Out album with the vocals erased. "Frantic Moment" features some tasty backwards guitar and more of the Brides, and "What About It?" earns extra collectable points for being used as the track for a fan club record.  

In short, if you consider yourself a deep P-Funk fan, you have to own this album. You may want to act quickly: with it being pressed in limited quantities, it appears the disc will soon become as rare as the vinyl.

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