Archive for the ‘Fred Wesley’ Category

Bootsy’s Rubber Band

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Listen: Jungle Bass / Bootsy’s Rubber Band
Jungle Bass / Bootsy's Rubber Band

In late ’89, Victoria Clare from Island Publishing in Los Angeles brought forth the idea of signing Bootsy Collins’ latest copyrights, and as I recall, was curious if the label side might be interested as well. I was up for hearing it either way, so she pouched me a cassette.

He’d basically recorded what turned into the JUNGLE BASS EP and circulated the tracks as a demo. At the time it all seemed perfectly out of step/in step with the moment, meaning Bootsy’s Rubber Band had been dormant long enough to shake off the stink of declining sales in their heyday, replacing it all with comeback potential. Whether by design or not, Bootsy was keen to revive the band’s name and begin trading once again as Bootsy’s Rubber Band. Without much deliberation, everyone at Island was on board and off we went.

Bootsy was one awesome sweetheart to work with. In no time, he assembled Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker and the core team. Mudbone Cooper was on front-ground vocals and Bootsy himself, suddenly self proclaimed as The Megabasstron Magus Lord Of The Riff for the studio logs, performed space bass, guitar, drums, black noise, unsamples and vocals. Someone named Boot-tron got the robot vocal credit for fun as well.

I do wish I’d saved some of his voicemails to the home phone. They usually started with “Hey Kev, it’s Bootsy baby”. This guy is a higher form of life, and he’s calling me at home. Sick.

God bless English record labels. They’ve persevered with thick, deep grooved 7″ pressings in non-flimsy picture sleeves to this day. It was a close call, but Island’s UK office hesitantly agreed to a ‘Jungle Bass’ 7″, all 13:10 minutes of it.

How can anyone not love this record? I’ve never found a person who didn’t thankfully. The press and UK fans certainly went for it big time, and presto – a few nights at Hammersmith Odeon went on sale.

Listen: Disciples Of Funk / Bootsy’s Rubber Band
Disciples Of Funk / Bootsy's Rubber Band

Bootsy is publicly known to avoid all forms of air travel, having been on a Concord flight back in the day that plunged to 10,000 feet and miraculously landed safely. This encounter was relayed to me by the man himself. So, when a few weeks after that run of London shows, I looked up to find Bootsy standing in my office doorway, I shouldn’t have been surprised. Inquiring what’s up, why was he in town, I discover he’s just back from England. Okay, did you spend some time there after the show?

“No, I took the QE2 home.”

I’m thinking, I know you don’t fly, but you gotta fly to and from England. Does overseas really count if you’re a non-flyer? Indeed it does.

Personally, I fear the ocean. But the ocean at night, that’s even scarier. Therefore, you’ll always find me trying to take a daytime flight and get over there or back before dark.

“Bootsy, aren’t you in fear of the ocean too?”

“Yeah Kev. But it’s the lesser of two evils. Ya see I can swim a little, but I can’t fly at all.”

Never ever did Boosty not have a hilariously logical comment about every last thing. He just pukes ‘em up.

Which brings me to the single’s B side ‘Disciples Of Funk’. Lyrically full of Bootsy-isms. The guy’s well just never runs dry. If the “You’re the best boyfrien…” intro isn’t enough, a smattering of other Bootsy one liners from the song are proof: “Bebop and boogie woogie baby”, “Don’t funk with my funk”, “It’s time to put some bass in that bottom baby”.

Luckily, nowadays, Bootsy is never out of style. I’ve called on him several times through the years since JUNGLE BASS, for co-writes, features, sessions, production. Within days, he’s back with more than needed. Great work ethic. Great soul. One of a kind.

Fred & The New J.B.’s

Friday, December 18th, 2009

FredJBsBreakin1, Fred Wesley & The New J.B.'s, Fred Wesley, The J.B.'s, James Brown, People, Polydor

Listen: Breakin’ Bread / Fred & The New J.B.’s FredWEsleyBreakinBread.mp3

It was hard to keep up with their constant and annoyingly slight, name changes. Does one file all Fred Wesley & The J.B’s singles together despite the little details, or by the exact artist name as it appears on the label? A dilemma for the meticulous record collector. I stuck to my rule: file exactly as the label reads. All record alphabetical by artist, then chronologically within each. Hence my Fred/J.B.’s singles are in several places on the wall shelves. I had to check a few spots before tracking this one down. Every time I file it away, I swear I’ll remember it’s exact location next play. Never happens.

As mentioned in prior posts, I’m a sucker for records about food. None better than this ‘NEW NEW SUPER HEAVY FUNK PRODUCTION BY JAMES BROWN’ to satiate that appetite.

Will Lord Warddd play this when he dj’s The Funk Hangover Party at Brooklyn Bowl on January 1?

Eddie Harris

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

That Is Why You're Overweight / Eddie Harris

Listen: That Is Why You’re Overweight / Eddie Harris EddieHarrisOverweight.mp3

Back in ’74, I became quite friendly with the Buffalo WEA salesman, Jack Rhelie. At the time, the labels he repped were the absolute holy grail. He’d bring me massive boxes of promo singles – instead of tossing them. Glad I mentioned my 45 fetish to him – and he was glad to give them a decent home. I was an ardent jazz hater up to this point. Always joked jazz should be a controlled substance (the arrogance of youth). Many of the traditional jazz guys were incorporating funk into their newer material, and when edited, they’d occasionally make for potential single releases. So I started appreciating them more, essentially not sounding like jazz at all, they weren’t much different from Bobby Byrd or Fred Wesley tracks actually. And I loved that stuff. Eddie Harris caught my ear first with his ’74 track ‘Is It In’, getting a juvenile kick out of the title and lyric. Always a sucker for songs with food twists, I totally fell for ‘That Is Why You’re Overweight’. A nice period piece too. Another jukebox staple.