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Bootsy Collins

Reviewed on this page:
Stretchin' Out... - Aah... The Name Is Bootsy, Baby! - Player Of The Year - This Boot Is Made For Fonk-N - Sweat Band - Ultra Wave - Here - The One Giveth, The Count Taketh Away - What's Bootsy Doin'? - Jungle Bass - Third Eye Open - Lord Of The Harvest - Blasters Of The Universe - Back In The Day - Keepin' The Funk Alive... 4 1995 - Fresh Outta "P" University - Play With Bootsy - Christmas Is 4-Ever - Tha Funk Capital Of The World

AKA William "Bootsy" Collins, Bootzilla, Casper, Zillatron, Fuzzface, etc. If you didn't come here from our main P-Funk page, you should probably go take a look.

Stretchin' Out... (Bootsy's Rubber Band: 1976)
Mix Parliament's groove and horn section with Funkadelic's guitars, add Bootsy's beyond-goofy sense of humor and bizarre but sincere approach to love songs ("Vanish In Our Sleep"), and you've got a recipe for supremely satisfying entertainment. He'd been saving up some of these songs for years, and it's worth the wait. (DBW)

Aaah... The Name Is Bootsy, Baby! (Bootsy's Rubber Band: 1977)
Bootsy's sophomore effort blows his funk and disco contemporaries off the map, with the irresistable "Pinocchio Theory," the title track and the slow, entrancing "Munchies For Your Love." (DBW)

The Player Of The Year (Bootsy's Rubber Band: 1978)
Another excellent effort, with perhaps his most compelling dance number "Bootzilla," an irresistable love song ("Very Yes") and the clever "Hollywood Squares." Plus "Roto-Rooter," which simply defies description. But usually he's just covering territory he'd mapped out on his first two records ("What's The Name Of This Town?"), so you might as well start with them. (DBW)

This Boot Is Made For Fonk-N (Bootsy's Rubber Band: 1979)
Bootsy's formula was starting to wear thin by now ("Jam Fan (Hot)"), and personal problems were pulling his focus off the music. There's hardly any Space Bass to be heard here, and a lot of uninspired synth; "Chug-A-Lug (Bun Patrol)" and "Bootsy Get Live" are brilliantly insane, but nothing else is up to the level of his first three albums. (DBW)

Sweat Band (Sweat Band: 1980)
A Bootsy side project; anonymous-sounding halfway-funky jams, including several instrumentals. Despite a first-rate with Maceo Parker prominently featured, this is overrated by the funk faithful: don't go hunting this one down. (DBW)

Ultra Wave (Bootsy: 1980)
For once Bootsy seems unsure of himself, and the album doesn't work up steam, although some songs (the frantic "It's A Musical," the hilarious love song "Sacred Flower") are gems. The title track, social comment "Fat Cat" and "Mug Push" are silly, all right, but not in a good way. (DBW)

Here (Godmoma: 1981)
Bootsy put together his own girl group, with Cynthia Birty, Tony Walker and Carolyn Myles handling vocals. This is nearly impossible to find, and not worth the effort, with too many routine funkers like "I Like It" and "Godmoma Here." That said, there are some great moments: "Be All You Can Be" written with Sly Stone is as good as you'd hope, an idiosyncratic love song blending hope, despair and hellacious hooks; the album-closing "Godmoma Of Love" is a gorgeous ballad, if overlong. Bootsy played almost all the instruments, aided by Joel Johnson and David "Chong" Spradley (keys) and his brother Catfish (guitar). George Clinton doesn't get a producer's credit this time, though he's thanked on the album cover. (DBW)

The One Giveth, The Count Taketh Away (William "Bootsy" Collins: 1982)
Although this is generally dismissed as fluff, there are some great melodies and hooks here: "So Nice You Name Him Twice" (featuring Maceo Parker), the insidiously melodic "Music To Smile By," the love song "Ex Con Of Love," and the funk masterpiece "Shine-O-Myte (Rag Poppin')," chock full of riffs and catchphrases. (DBW)

In 1985, Bootsy cut a single with Jerry Harrison under the name Bonzo Goes To Washington: "5 Minutes," which uses samples of Ronald Reagan's famous "The bombing starts in five minutes" speech over a funk groove.

What's Bootsy Doin'? (Bootsy Collins: 1988)
Bootsy's first record in six years showed he hadn't wasted his time out of the spotlight - the wide variety of his intervening session gigs seems to have expanded his conception of what a Bootsy Collins record could sound like. His vocals come and go, while the choruses and many of the lead vocals are turned over to a host of singers including Mudbone Cooper, P-Nut Johnson, Vickie Vee, Taka Boom and Godmoma. The music isn't stuck in the Seventies (the high-tech "I Wanna Be Kissin' U") but isn't self-consciously up-to-date either: drum machines and synth are used to add interest and excitement ("Leakin'"), not as a crutch, and there's plenty of live guitar (by Stevie Salas, Ron Jennings, Catfish and Bootsy) and the Horny Horns. The Space Bass is present on several tracks ("Party On Plastic (What's Bootsy Doin'?)") but always subordinate to the needs of the tune. Even the lyrics are smart, to the point ("First One To The Egg"), and occasionally even sentimental ("Yo-Moma-Loves Ya" featuring Mama Collins). (DBW)

Jungle Bass (Bootsy's Rubber Band: 1990)
An EP with only two songs: the title track is routine house music, with only Bootsy's vocals lifting it out of utter mediocrity; the other song, "Disciples of Funk," is derivative but does the job. (DBW)

In 1992, Bootsy was a major contributor to Praxis's Transmutation (Mutatis Mutandis). (DBW)

Third Eye Open (Hardware: 1994)
Hardware was a one-off power rock trio composed of Bootsy, onetime Hendrix drummer Buddy Miles, and guitarist Stevie Salas. The genre's been done to death, but the tunes are good ("Got A Feelin'"), the lyrics are intelligent ("500 Years"), and Salas shows a real command of his instrument. Most of the tunes are by Salas, with Miles writing two songs ("Waiting On You," "Love Obsession (When The Eagle Flies") and Bootsy getting just two co-writes ("Hard Look," "Shake It") - though "Leakin'," attributed to Salas, seems to be a remake of Bootsy's 1988 tune with that name. Backing vocals added by Mudbone Cooper, Bernard Fowler, and George Clinton. Produced by Bill Laswell, co-produced by Salas. (DBW)

Lord Of The Harvest (Zillatron: 1994)
Bootsy's new alter-ego "Zillatron" plays avant-garde rock, ambient, free noise, God knows what all. About a third of the record is inspired Space Bass soloing over a looped background, another third is Bootsy's distorted vocalizing, and the rest is a crazy mix of loud guitars (courtesy of Buckethead), white noise, chanting and synth. The liner notes include a warning saying "This record is silly," but actually there's serious social commentary buried in all that noise ("Exterminate," "Count Zero"). Guests include Bernie, Laswell (who produced with Bootsy), Grandmaster Melle Mel, Umar Bin Hassan, Momma Collins, Patti Willis and Brenda Holloway (of "Every Little Bit Hurts" fame). I wouldn't say it's the future of rock, but check it out, if you have the nerve: it's a look down a road that'll probably never be travelled. (DBW)

Blasters Of The Universe (Bootsy's New Rubber Band: 1994)
Bootsy heads back to his Seventies sound here, with a couple of great tunes ("Wide Track" with the Horny Horns, "Back N The Day"), and an homage to original Funkadelic guitarist Eddie Hazel, who had died in 1992 ("Goodnight Eddie"). The rest of the record recycles earlier P-Funk catchphrases and riffs ("Funk Express Card," ""Funk Me Dirty") - it's enjoyable, but you keep feeling like you've listened to this record before. (DBW)

Back In The Day (Bootsy: 1994)
Greatest hits from 1976 to 1982, with a few rarities thrown in (the 1980 B-side "Scenery," a live version of "Psychoticbumpschool," "What So Never The Dance" by Bootsy's old band the House Guests). (DBW)

Keepin' The Funk Alive 4... 1995 (Bootsy's New Rubber Band: 1995)
Finally a live album from Bootsy (a two-CD set, actually), but it doesn't do justice to his actual outer-space show. Too many classic tunes are reduced to brief summaries ("Bootzilla," "Pinocchio Theory"), while many of the longer grooves just get repetitive ("P-Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up)"). Most of the highlights of his live show - the goofy poses, the costumes, the extended romp through the audience ("Touch Somebody") - don't come across on disc, though his bass playing does (the solo feature "I'd Rather Be With You"). Bernie also gets a chance in the spotlight ("Bernie Solo"); the rest of the backing band doesn't. The only recent tunes are the Hazel tribute "A Sacred Place" from Blasters, and the tossoff title track. Fun while you're waiting for him to come to your town, but no replacement for the real thing. (DBW)

Fresh Outta "P" University (Bootsy Collins: 1998)
This time out, Bootsy's making a serious effort to sound up-to-date, with loud hip hop drums, a-bit-behind-the-curve street slang ("Off Da Hook"), and several guest rappers, most notably MC Lyte, who enlivens "I'm Leavin' U (Gotta Go, Gotta Go)." It's not as consistent as his last major commercial release (What's Bootsy Doin'? way back in 1988), with some dull tracks ("Do The Freak") and heavy reliance on P-Funk retreads ("Wind Me Up," "Funk Ain't Broke"). However, there are enough beautiful love songs ("Pearl Drops"), danceable grooves ("Shiggy Wiggy"), and whomping bass lines ("Ever Lost Your Lover") to keep you from getting too disappointed. Predictably, the funkiest tracks are the reunions with Bernie Worrell ("Penetration (In Funk We Thrust)," "Fresh Outta P (University)"). Mostly produced by Bootsy, though Mousse T., Boogieman, Tabularasa and Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim) all participated. The musicians are mostly Bootsy regulars, though Salsoul veteran Vincent Montana guests on vibes. (DBW)

Play With Bootsy (Bootsy Collins: 2004)
Like the last album, a mix of modern dance tracks (title track), hip hop ("Soul Sista" with Fat Joe) and old-school funk (the concluding snippet "Funk Ship" with Bernie, George, Fred, Garry Shider and Ray Davis), without enough of either. What's more distressing is that Bootsy turns over nearly all the vocals - aside from the spoken promo spot "Inner-Planetary-Funksmanship" - to a series of guests: Snoop Dogg ("Love Gangsta"), Rosie Gaines ("Don't Let 'Em"), Lady Miss Kier ("I'm Tired Of Good, I'm Trying Bad"), Macy Gray ("Funky And You Know It") and Bobby Womack (the early 80s Prince homage "Groove Eternal"). If we're only going to get a Bootsy solo project once a decade, I want to hear him singing the leads, goldangit! For all that, though, it's only a disappointment, not a failure: there are a number of good songs to be heard ("All-Star Funk" with Fred Wesley on trombone), and as always, Bootsy's mastery of various bass styles is impressive. Producers include Fat Boy Slim ("The Bomb," which fizzles), Royal Garden, Martin Buttrich, Levent Can 7 and Mousse T. (DBW)

Christmas Is 4-Ever (Bootsy's Rubber Band: 2006)
Probably the only Christmas record released this year that does not include a cover of Joni Mitchell's "River." Mostly funked-up, retitled versions of holiday standards ("The Christmas Song" is "Chestnutz"; "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" becomes "Boot-off"; etc.), and the joke wears thin before each track is half-over, partly because they run about five minutes each ("Silent Night"). Strangely, though, Bootsy put a ton of effort into the project, with detailed arrangements (including horn charts by Wesley) and a bunch of guests: Snoop ("Happy Holidaze"), Worrell, Bobby Byrd, Sugarfoot, and Charlie Daniels. So his raw talent - a remade "I'd Rather Be With You" features a breathtaking, monster bass solo - often overcomes the trite material, and leaves you wishing he'd lavish that kind of attention on an album of new tunes. (DBW)

Living On Another Frequency (Science Faxtion: 2008)
A new group featuring Buckethead, Brain and Greg Hampton, organized around some kind of dystopic future theme. I was hoping it would be something like the Zillatron project, but unfortunately Hampton is in the driver's seat, and he proffers mostly warmed-over hard rock riffs and his Axl-wannabe vocals ("Chaos In Motion"; "Take You Down"). Bootsy is generally confined to musique concrete (the instrumental "Sci-Fax Theme"; "Famous" with Worrell) and Bucket contributes a bunch of hyper solos and his version of "The Star Spangled Banner" ("I See Rockets"). There's fun to be had here ("Life-Is In-DeLiver," a rare Collins lead vocal), but it's just plain rock 'n' roll... The concept and genre cross-pollination possibilities add nothing. Chuck D. guests on "What It Is," and ZionPlanet10 sings "Brainstorm." (DBW)

Tha Funk Capital Of The World (Bootsy Collins: 2011)
Collins is so likable and full of good cheer it's tough to put down his albums even when they're shallow (which everything since What's Bootsy Doin'? has been, to be honest). Again, he leans heavily on guest appearances - Maceo, Ice Cube, Bobby Womack, Bela Fleck, Sheila E. - and lifts from past hits ("Yummy, I Got The Munchies"; "Kool Whip," based on "Fourplay"). Then there's a series of elegies: "Garry Shider Tribute"; "JB-Still The Man" featuring Rev. Al Sharpton; "The Jazz Greats (A Tribute To Jazz)"; "Mirrors Tell Lies" incorporating excerpts from a Jimi Hendrix interview. None of this stuff rises above trivial nostalgia, good-natured as it all is... Once you strip that out there's a decent EP left over: "Freedumb" (with Dr. Cornel West) is clever funk with a sly string arrangement; "Minds Under Construction" is a worthy if repetitive Buckethead experiment; "Chocolate Caramel Angel" is a classic Bootsy slow jam, funky as it is romantic, and verse vicea. (DBW)

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