Listen to this while high: Bootsy? Player of the Year by Bootsy Collins.Behind the buzz: In honor of the Booted One's scheduled stomp on the Fillmore's planks this Saturday night, I'm gonna burn this Tuesday bongload in the company of one of the few early Bootsy Collins albums whose liner notes I didn't write. Landing the job of contributing tunechat to long past-due CD releases of such Rubber Band-era Bootsiana as Ultra Wave and The One Giveth, the Count Taketh Away necessitated a chat with the great man, who dearly loved this epically cartoony 1978 slab of groove, both for the songs and place it made in his eccentric legend. The P-Funk All-Star will be performing at this year's Bonnaroo.
Today's dope: A fresh bud of newly procured Pursang Haze, hybrid of distinction.
This Funk Was Made for Boot'n: Long before Bootsy and brother Catfish got folded into George Clinton's P-Funk crew, both were star adornments of James Brown's band. That's where Bootsy conceived the idea of bass guitar as lead funk instrument. A series of outrageous contrived personae covered for the musician's friendly-ghost shyness and this third solo album shows how life as a touring monster was beginning to treat him. "What's the Name of This Town?" references the star's merry unmindfulness when it came to remembering just where he was at any given moment, with fellow J.B.'s alum Fred Wesley leaning in with the Horny Horns as the martial drumbeat quicksteps us off to the next gig. "May the Force Be with You" is one of Collins' beloved slow, romantic jams that always gave him a chance to work the ladies in the audience. Clocking in at 8:27, "Very Yes" is more bedroom coozedelia and one of the reasons Bootsy's second-generation fans often credit him for their very existence. "Bootzilla" showcases the bass player's newest self-incarnation, a windup rockstar of truly awesome cuddle power that climbed to # 1 on the R &B chart. The thunderous orchestrations on "Hollywood Squares" precede yet more lick-ear seduction out of a man who sounds like he didn't get out of bed much this trip West. "Roto-Rooter" shows Bootsy on the blue-collar job, with the jack-in-the-box "Who ya gonna call?" chorus taking yet another bite out of Ray Parker Jr.'s "Ghostbusters," while advertising its services like some late-nite commercial on station WEFUNK. "As In 'I Love You'" closes out the LP with a few last love squeezes from the bedroom philosopher.
Psychoactive verdict: Bootsy's later albums tended to alternate between deep funk experimentation and extended aural sexiness (peppered with a growing number of hints of the psychic battering the funkateer took during his long stint at the top), but this is the one that holds together best as an old-style LP-length listen. For beginners, start here, then proceed either forward to 1980's Ultra Wave or backward to his 1976 solo debut Stretchin' Out with Bootsy's Rubber Band.