Record of the Day: Bootsy Collins, "The Name Is Bootsy, Baby!"

Record of the Day: Bootsy Collins, “The Name Is Bootsy, Baby!”

Bootsy Collins
Ahh… The Name Is Bootsy, Baby! (Warner Bros. CD 92972-2)

Certainly one of the most eccentric artists of the entire black music scene, Bootsy Collins is also one of its most gifted: an extraordinary multi-instrumentalist whose power ignited James Brown’s rhythm section in classics such as “Sex Machine” and “Soul Power”, excellent vocalist with a timbre that makes him recognizable after just one word, a great composer and arranger, he found his perfect artistic counterpart in another important African-American musician, George Clinton, who immediately enlisted Bootsy in his crazy funk/psychedelic projects with Parliament and Funkadelic, whose irresistible music was heavily influenced by massive drug use.

The sudden success and pressure of the record business, combined with constant touring, led Bootsy to a physical collapse that put his safety at risk.

After a period of reflection, Bootsy returned to the scene as the guru of that generation of downtown musicians (Bill Laswell, Vernon Reid etc.) who grafted violent experimental sounds onto the foundations of that P-Funk that Collins and Clinton had invented in the 1990s. 70. His activity now takes place mainly in the recording studio and has seen him involved with artists such as Sly & Robbie, Dee-lite, Material, Praxis, Herbie Hancock and a good part of the New York scene.

This first solo album from 1977 is an excellent introduction to his paradoxical style, full of humour, where explosive rhythmic carpets form the basis for arrangements rich in wind instruments, keyboards, rhythmic guitars and percussion, with articulated and oblique compositional structures, never banal. Psychedelia combines with pure funk to create an inimitable sound that has influenced generations of musicians from Sly Stone to Miles Davis, right up to Prince (who explicitly refers to Bootsy); at the same time this new style remains deeply linked to the great tradition of soul music and a song like “What’s a Telephone Bill?” pays homage to Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye.

In this album Bootsy unleashes his unbridled imagination even in the lyrics, which are decidedly unusual, full of verbal games and a sense of the absurd; among other things, Professor Collins explains to us the so-called “Pinocchio Theory” developed together with George Clinton: «If you betray funk your nose will grow…”

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.