In any other year, Fresh Maggots... Hatched would easily have claimed the title of best maggot-themed album of the year. Released in 1971, it will instead always take the backseat to a certain Funkadelic jam. No shame in that, though; what's here is certainly strong enough to stand on its own. Teenage duo Mick Burgoyne and Leigh Dolphin play acid folk as if they thought a tab was a form of musical notation and not something to trip with, which is to say that their clear-headed playing avoids the main pitfall of the genre: its frequent descents into self-indulgence. With brevity as an organizing principle (the "epic" here is six minutes, and nothing else tops four), the Maggots do indeed stay fresh; rather than meandering aimlessly, electric guitarist Burgoyne's ferocious fuzzgasms grow out of the compositions organically, and the band never lets its head float too far into the clouds to lose sight of its roots in classic folk, as demonstrated on the absolutely gorgeous, lightly orchestrated "Rosemary Hill". Only when the band attempts to get philosophical lyrically on "Who's to Die?" does it reveal its adolescence, but that faltering moment aside, Hatched is a remarkably assured debut -- and finale, alas, though Sunbeam's loving restoration recaptures the jaunty, Bolanesque non-album single "Car Song", along with a live radio session.
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