Posts Tagged ‘Bootsy Collins’


Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Listen: Groovemaster / Arrow

The Island offices on 4th Street, right above Tower Records, were a real hubbub of activity back in the late 80′s and early 90′s. Seems a day wouldn’t go by when at least someone from the roster would stop by. Julian Cope, Phranc, Toots Hibbert, Bootsy Collins, Melissa Etheridge, Etta James, Third World, Rakim, Marianne Faithfull, Anthrax. Seriously, there was never a dull moment.

Arrow lived locally, and seemed genuinely thrilled to have a group of friends at the company, all of whom attended his many in Central Park or SOB’s shows. He was forever a happy jolt to any workday.

Seeing him live was a quick trip to carnival, there was no way you could have a bad time. For an hour or so, everyone danced and laughed and got rid of all their troubles. Sounds all very patronizing I’ll agree, but it really did happen that way.

Despite some of the sonic trappings of his Mango releases, like those electronic drums for instance, overall I have the fondest memories of ‘Groovemaster’ and those days when it was a current single. Not being one for Latin music, like truly not at all, ‘Grooovemaster’ just slides by unscathed. Hey, after all, it was World Music. Most importantly, it’s only possible to remember the good times associated with all things Arrow.

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Arrow

Redds & The Boys / Trouble Funk

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Listen: Movin’ And Groovin’ / Redds & The Boys
Movin' And Groovin' / Redds & The Boys

Back in ’79, MCA had a freak hit with Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers ‘Bustin’ Loose’. I distinctly recall our head of radio promotion being amazed at the record’s surprise success and frustrated too. Black radio wouldn’t play the single, only the white pop stations were airing it.

Fast forward a few years, Go Go is now officially a musical genre and movement, but the same tired radio resistance kept all those great singles off the urban airwaves.

But in ’85, Island was headstrong in aiding this musical cause. Signing a bunch of acts to singles deals, some to full albums, then packaging them together for a few nights of serious nasty grinding at The Ritz. I’ll never forget those shows. EU, Mass Extension, Trouble Funk.

The real truth: Redds & The Boys, they were crazy great. Even the worst dancers lost shame, made fools of themselves and did not care. I know cause I was one.

Onstage, ‘Movin’ & Groovin’ did not end, and not a soul wanted it to. Talk about a signature song. These guys were so locked it was scary. They seemed ready to take on the world. What the fuck happened?

Listen: Trouble / Trouble Funk
Trouble / Trouble Funk

When I joined Island in ’88, their mailroom was knee deep in Go Go records. Praise be. I grabbed handfuls of them all.

Like Redds & The Boys, and all the others for that matter, Trouble Funk suffered from the same curse: misguided production and mixes. The drum sounds were so wrong. To be honest, the team around these recordings were a bunch of self celebrating studio churls. Hacks basically having their moment in the sun. Damn shame. Because live, these bands ripped down anything in their way.

Real drums. That’s it. The processed drums fucked it all up. Someone should remix all these records, take off that ghastly wash of cheap studio technology. Because the foundation is here, on every last one.

Bootsy producing ‘Trouble’. Great call.

Now Bootsy, you need to remix and reclaim this.

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.