Bootsy Collins is cooking up something in his kitchen, y’all. He has been tweeting about various folks coming to Cincinnati and working on his new album... like Snoop Dogg, Cornel West and Béla Fleck.
Last week Bootsy wrote: “I just talked to Sheila E. about playing her Drums and Percussions on the New Album, STAY TUNED COULD GET FUNKY, REAL SOON.”
In the meantime between time... let’s have our own little Bootsy party right here.
’Twas 40 years ago that William “Bootsy” Collins, at the tender age of 18, was thrust into the limelight as James Brown’s new bass player. Bootsy was hired, along with his young bandmates, when Mr. Brown fired his old musicians in a dispute over money.
Several years later, Bootsy was taken under wing by George Clinton and became a primary architect of P-Funk. Bootsy Collins quickly evolved from songwriter and session musician to one of America’s most flamboyant stage performers.
I’m streaming some choice cuts on my Vox blog, tracing Bootsy’s path to glory. Click the titles to listen. (And if your computer speakers don’t deliver the low end... I recommend earbuds. Seriously.)
1. “Super Bad” (live) – James Brown
Here’s Bootsy backing the Godfather of Soul at a 1971 Paris concert. Bootsy also played on the hit single version of “Super Bad.” Hot hot high-energy bass line.
2. “What So Never the Dance, Pts. 1 & 2” – House Guests
Bootsy and his boys only stayed with James Brown for one year. Generation gap type thing. J.B. was like the stern stepfather, and Bootsy was doing stuff like dropping acid.
After leaving the James Brown camp, Bootsy and his band called themselves House Guests. This is one of two singles the House Guests released in 1971.
3. “Together” – Parliament
Bootsy first hooked up with G. Clinton in 1971, contributing to the Funkadelic double-album “America Eats Its Young.” Bootsy soon departed, but he rejoined P-Funk in time for Parliament’s 1974 debut on Casablanca Records – “Up for the Down Stroke.” And he was home to stay.
This track (written by Bootsy) is from the 1975 “Chocolate City” LP. Bootsy flexes with a Mu-Tron effects pedal. Around this time he started rocking a custom-made star-shaped “space bass”... and Bootsy’s reputation soared as a musician and as a showman.
As he told Bass Player magazine a few years ago: “Once I discovered the Mu-Tron... I could almost talk through my instrument.” (To hear Bootsy’s original version of “Together,” minus the Mu-Tron and minus G. Clinton’s vocal polishing, click here.)
4. “Disco Lady” – Johnnie Taylor
Bet most of you didn’t know Bootsy played on this 1976 smash hit, which was the first single ever to be certified platinum (meaning 2 million units shipped).
On loan to Detroit producer Don Davis (along with fellow P-Funkers Bernie Worrell and Glen Goins), Bootsy didn’t stretch out on this track. Kept it in the pocket for the most part.
Coincidentally, while “Disco Lady” was dominating the singles charts, Bootsy’s Rubber Band released its debut album on Warner Bros. Records. Bootsy was about to become a hit-maker in his own right.
5. “Freak to Freak” – Sweat Band
Bootsy Collins flourished in partnership with George Clinton as a songwriter and producer. In 1980 Bootsy co-wrote and produced this track for Clinton’s new label, Uncle Jam Records. All the old heads remember.