Saturday, September 08, 2007

I'd Buy Anything By...Bootsy Collins

You need a lot of ingredients to make a genuinely funky stew, and Bootsy Collins provides two of the major ones: a cute/mischievous sense of humour, and a low end that sounds like vicious soul food defecation.

Bootsy's a brilliantly unconventional slap/wow bass player, and over the years he has developed a complex mythology to rival George Clinton's "Star Child" stuff...and at the same time he's managed to be surprisingly down-to-earth and make songs you actually want to LISTEN to. Clowns, aliens, werewolves, Casper, Bootzilla, platforms, star-glasses, and underneath it all a really sweet and approachable guy (so they say).

You can hear Bootsy on the mid-period Parliament and Funkadelic albums -- and he's even lurking around on some of James Browns' classic tracks -- but he's best discovered as a solo artist, particularly on his first two releases. He took the Parliament sound, boosted the Horny Horns, added a snappy "rubber band" quality, made it "friendlier," and even did some memorable ballads. Bootsy, I love you, baby-baba.

Here he is with the classic Rubber Band, coming out of his sheet to do a memorable space-bass solo:

Bootsy's put out some stinkers, that's for sure, but even the BAD stuff is redeemed by his enthusiasm and his eccentricity. Like the rest of the funkateers he manages to pull it all together every few years, update his sound, and release another gem. Case in point: "Play with Bootsy," a terrific song (and video) featuring Kelli Ali (also brilliant, also worth checking out). It's not "Bootsy's Rubber Band" anymore, but it's still Bootsy.

Albums to buy: "Stretchin' Out" and "The Name is Bootsy, Baby!" (his first two releases, both a combination of wild fun and sweet ballads). Albums to avoid: "What's Bootsy Doin'?" (has some good moments but is far too silly). For fans only: "Lord of the Harvest" by Zillatron (Bootsy becomes a sort of werewolf monster, teams up with Buckethead, and takes samples from "The Howling"...very strange but captivating if you stick with it).

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