“‘C’mon Baby,” sings Big Daddy Kane on Bootsy’s Hot Saucer “You really touch my soul/You got that jelly and you’re making it roll!” This track is one of a full funk set, with deep groovy bass, Parliamentary guitar licks and full-on pre-disco. Bootsy’s back after a 6-year hiatus and he’s gonna party like it’s 1972!
Ever since he began in James Brown’s band and then later as the co-with George Clinton in the mind-bending psychedelic-funk explosion that was Parliament/Funkadelic, bassist Bootsy Collins has ruled the airwaves as a collaborator and style sorcerer. Rightly, he’s been praised as the most innovative bass players ever.
No surprise that for his new release World Wide Funk, Bootsy has spent a bit of time on the phone calling in favours from a wide, colourful and star packed crew to lay down the funk at his legendary Cincinnati Re-Hab Studios. Some, however, did not make the gig, choosing to send in their contributions by email, etc. Not that you can tell. Bootsy’s wizardry on the decks ensures it all comes together seamlessly and captures the vibe, which in his case is as varied and ever random as a Jackson Pollock painting.
The title track gives us a turn from beatbox pioneer Doug E. Fresh, and also Guns N’ Roses former guitar wizard Buckethead, who totally nails it on the wah-wah pedals. In there, too is rising funk bassist and singer Alissia Benveniste who adds sprinklings of jazzy dust here and there. With a sweet crew like that I’m not exactly sure what Bootsy actually does in the mix but whatever, it’s all good.
Not to be left out Mr Snoop Lion, err Mr Snoop Dogg pops up to add some bark and growl on Hi-On-Heels, which is apparently a plea for sensuous release. At least that’s the general overtone. The charisma of power vocalist October London could be laid on with a trowel – it’s so thick and creamy. Is this a new Barry White we have here?
It’s a laid back track that nicely counterbalances more spacey, hippy psycho-funk of numbers like Bass-Rigged-System. My liner notes claim this one is ” a veritable super-summit of bassist starring Collins, Benveniste, Béla Fleck And The Flecktones’ Victor Wooten, Ivorian virtuoso Manou Gallo, and jazz legend Stanley Clarke of the group Return To Forever.” Wow. I’m not even sure who all these people are but I’m frantically googling to get up to speed. The deepness alone on this track makes it the best bounce ever. These grooves are immaculate and coupled with fuzzed-out licks ago on for ever.
To call Bootsy flamboyant is an understatement. After all he can out-dress Rick James and Lady Ga-Ga on a bad day! And he’ll never miss an opportunity to celebrate his favourite person – himself. But unlike other Orange-Haired narcissists he never takes himself too seriously. With help from P-Funk brothers Dennis Chambers and guitar ace Eric Gales Bootsy has reached deep in his magic bag to launch his most spectacular interstellar spaceship — another chapter in his ever-evolving self-mythology.
But, folks, my favourite interplanetary disco comes on the aforementioned Hot Saucer which may well be a return to The Mothership, Parliament’s most potent, and far-out intergalactic incarnation of Afrofuturist since Sun Ra and his Archestra. Rest assured this particular reference is not to UFO’s but to crockery , oh, and the illicit pleasures of a particularly sordid kitchen fantasy (blush). In this day and age, you gotta wonder how he gets away with such overt innuendo. Also, the particularly sweet vocals of Musiq Soulchild and the smoky, husky vox of Big Daddy Kane might not appear to work. But boy, do they ever.
And speaking of old friends, or is that Public Enemies we find Chuck D up to his old trick on the song Illusions, cramming in a huge, sniper-like verse of tightly coiled and urgent rage with all the political venom he can muster. Don’t believe the hype, baby.
Bootsy is good to his friends, Dennis Chambers isn’t the P-Funk member on the album. Also, keyboard maestro Bernie Worrell, who passed last year both appears and becomes the subject of the wonderful number A Salute To Bernie. Bootsy made the song using synthesizer tracks that Worrell had recorded way back in the early 2000’s in the early ’00s but left unused. It starts with ambient chatter from children and the grandfatherly voice of Worrell reassuring the kids “Get away, there ain’t no monsters in here.” Bernie’s imprint is unmistakable, the ‘brother nature’s’ whirring synth swirls around the room with all the signature vamps that made tracks like Parliament’s Flash Light and Funkadelic’s One Nation Under A Groove so damn cool. To call his keyboard playing a sensory-overload is an understatement. And there’s always the danger of distortion in the cans if your headphones aren’t up to it. Better still but the best speakers you can afford and crank this deep house medium slow jam techno-jambalaya up to ‘11’. This ain’t no mournful elegy to a departed friend. It’s a celebration.
There’s no doubt that this is Bootsy’s baby but you got to give credit to his supersonic crew. Everyone shines, perhaps even brighter than they may on their own individual projects. Bootsy has a way of producing alchemy from mediocre. If Black Funk America could pull off a Fly My Pretties project then I reckon it would look like this. Seriously, this is one afrofunkadelicious partay!