Tag Archives: Al Sharpton

Andre’s Amazon Archive for 10/25/2014: “Tha Funk Capital Of The World” By Bootsy Collins

The Funk Capital Of The World

If there was ever an example of a success in the funk music relm it would have to be Bootsy Collins. He was there during the infancy of the genre with James Brown and than onto George Clinton. He even survived some of funk’s more challenging periods by collaborating with other artists and doing more session work. And most importantly,he managed to come out of the addiction problems faced by many in the music world period to come out all the better. Now he is emerging as something of an elder statesman of the genre. And he has had enough experiences at this point to create what could be described as a magnum opus. And he also possesses the singular talent,versatility and personality to pull it off. On the other hand he’s also one of the chief architects of P-funk which,even during it’s original era was a lot more fragile than it seemed to be. So this album comes off as perhaps being a grand finale to an amazing career.

What’s good and not so good about it comes from it’s ambition. Bootsy is looking here to do a sort of P-Funk equivalent to Quincy Jones’ Back on the Block,pulling together elements from different generations-musical and culturally to show a generation cycle involved. But here there are some cracks in the jib that are just difficult to avoid. P-funk after the 90’s was always dependent on guest artists,especially hip-hop related. But this one is a bit too reliant on the worn out formula. Every song here has a guest. And often times their presence,considering some of them are relative unknowns,reduce Bootsy to being a sideman on his own recording. Samuel L Jackson rapping about the influence music played in his life on “After These Messages” is a meaningful and happy surprise. As is Al Sharpton discussing the often unheralded importance James Brown has in the culture,showcasing how he “changed the beat”.

On the other hand,the grooves outside of the clever horn melange of “The Jazz Greats” with George Duke and Ron Carter,mostly sound a bit by-the-numbers. And if they get a little more out of the box such as on the more rocky side of “Mirrors Tell Lies” and “Minds Under Construction” the musical ideas are so cluttered,some of the clarity of sound is missing. Bootsy simply overshot the mark just a little and flat out tried to do too much on this album. Had this been spread out over the course of a double set or couple releases with more varied music than it would’be been the intended masterpiece. As a history lesson on how funk is misunderstood nine times out of ten,it’s wonderful. As a musical concept,it simply doesn’t HAVE enough of Bootsy’s own identity to effect. In fact the Quincy analogy works there too. Here Bootsy is more of an MC (and presented as a weaker one actually) than an artist. Than again I enjoy Bootsy the artist. So maybe one more album that draws this concept out more fully might in order? Well I can only hope but what this album looks to is worth exploring further.

Originally posted on October 23rd,2011

Link to original review here!

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Filed under Bootsy Collins, Funk, Funk Bass, George Clinton, George Duke, P-Funk, Quincy Jones

The Anatomy of THE Groove 8/22/14 Rique’s Pick : “Still the Man” by Bootsy Collins featuring Al Sharpton

Bootsy Collins 2011 album “The Funk Capital of the World” was rightfully hailed as a return to form for Bootzilla, the top student, the Rhinestone rockstar, the promised one of funk. Such titles might sound like blustery braggadocio, but when you look at his career arc of providing top shelf funk for two of the pillars of the music, James Brown and George Clinton, as well as carving his own unique legacy as  a player,  personality and band leader, one must admit there has always been something extra special about Bootsy. “The Funk Capital of the World” as a whole was informed by Bootsy’s apprentischip in the James Brown band. While Bootsy spent the majority of his career expanding the horizons of the bass, developing his own thick, wet, effects laden bass tone, and hot rodding his bass so that he could solo with the guitar expressiveness of Jimi Hendrix, this album was all about him playing bass. Straight up bass lines that hit on “the One which we believe in.” Bill Laswell noted once when he produced Bootsy that he was not playing much bass anymore, a practice Bootsy feels began when the synth bass of Bernie Worrell began to take up more space, freeing the bass player to play accents instead of laying down the main part. On “Still the Man”, Bootsy’s appreciation of James Brown peaks, as he invites Al Sharpton to lay a James Brown style oration/toast/rap over a straight ahead funky J.B’s type of beat. The message of the song was sorely needed because again, Mr. Brown’s influence was so great it gets taken for granted at times, especially in the Black musical community he did so much for.

The song begins with Sharpton talking, followed by a classic J.B style horn hit from the band. The groove is serious, as Bootsy hits a bass line in the J.B’s style, somewhat reminiscent of the bass line on “Get on the Good Foot”. The horn line takes you back to lines such as “Give it Up or Turn it Loose”. Ladies croon “He’s still the man”, as the guitar player gives you a little bit of what Prince calls “Chicken Grease”, i.e sixteenth note chord strums. The track gets more and more complex, as the horn chart continues to develop, in a way that is still reminiscent of Brown’s great arranger Fred Wesley, but reminds you more so of his work with P Funk. The way the track hints and suggests various James Brown songs reminds one of a sample collage or pastiche of Brown songs, but it’s done here by a live band. After Sharptons rap we get an actual trombone solo, which definitely ups the J.B’s factor, in the style of Fred Wesley’s ‘bone solos.

Sharpton goes on to remind us why James Brown is still important and relevant to contemporary music and culture. This is very signifigant because Al Sharpton is a man who James Brown mentored and helped rise to his prominence on the national scene. Sharpton talks about J.B’s musical impact and how when he looks at many things artists do today, he sees James Brown, Brown is “Still the Man.” One of my favorite lines in the whole piece however is “whenver an artist goes into the studio and sings a song for a cause bigger than themselves, I say James Brown is still the man.” This of course brings to mind all the fabulously powerful message songs in The Godfather of Soul’s career. After Sharpton finnishes his praise song, Bootsy has his original Rubber Band keyboardist, Joel “Razor Sharp” Johnson play a riff similar to Brown’s piano playing on “Sex Machine”, using an organ tone. Bootsy even calls for “Some organ”, as James himself called out in their classic concerts at the Olympia Theater in Paris in 1971.

“Still the Man” is a funky interlude of a song on a great modern funk album by Bootsy Collins. “The Funk Capital of the World” takes an almost Quincy Jones style approach to album construction, inviting a number of guests, including Cornel West, Chuck D, Snoop Dogg, Flea, and others Bootsy have worked with over the years to deliver his message. Bootsy seems to be in a heavy musical big brother role, teaching about the beginning of funk as he knows it, and what it meant both musically and culturally. And why he feels that funky spirit is needed today. Of course, a big part of this is James Brown, and Bootsy does something that is fairly simple but somehow rarely done by paying direct tribute to James Brown. Bootsy teams up with one of Brown’s biggest protoges, Al Sharpton, to do it, as if to remind young cats of where their thing comes from. The result is a funky song that gives one a little bit of relief if they’re a James Brown fan and wonder what he would sound like in the present day, as well as making us feel validated in our appreciation of a man who had his first hit nearly sixty years ago. It’s hard to believe an artist who began so long ago is still vital and important in the direction of modern music, but so it is with James Brown. As he always said, put him with ‘Bach, Beethoven, and Brahams.” And I’m glad that people he inspired to funk like Bootsy Collins and Al Sharpton can still take the time out to celebrate and praise, and educate on the importance of Mr. James Brown.



Filed under 1970's, 1980's, 1990s, Blogging, Funk, Funk Bass, James Brown