Friday, December 15, 2006

Bootsy's Christmas Album

Bootsy Collins, our Forever Fearless Funk Foreman busts out what sounds like a Wicked Christmas Album!!! I just barely heard about it so I can't review it myself yet. But the clips @ Amazon sound so great and Bootsy is soooo stellah and it's gotten such rave reviews so far, I just hadda blogaboutit!

If you're not already dashing to the store to get it or if your booty is bumpin' but the wallet don't follow, check out these clips (via Amazon):

1. N-Yo City (New Song) Listen
2. Merry Christmas Baby Listen
3. Jingle Belz (Aka Jingle Bells) Listen
4. Happy Holidaze Listen
5. Chestnutz (Aka The Christmas Song) Listen
6. Winterfunkyland (Aka Winter Wonderland) Listen
7. Santa's Coming (Aka Santa Claus Is Coming To Town) Listen
8. Boot-Off (Aka Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer) Listen
9. Silent Night Listen
10. Sleigh Ride Listen
11. Dis-Christmas (Aka This Christmas) Listen
12. Be-With-You Listen
13. Christmas Is 4-Ever Listen

Here's a review from Blogcritics:

Music Review: Bootsy Collins - Christmas Is 4 Ever
Written by Timothy Jarrett

Christmas albums by popular artists face a pretty significant challenge: how to make the holiday canon, which ranges from medieval plainchant ("O come, o come, Emmanuel") to high classical music to Tin Pan Alley tunes and children's TV show theme music, sound like it belongs to the artist and not let the artist be overwhelmed by what can be a lot of schlock. There are three basic approaches to the challenge: go ultra-traditional with the arrangements, create a bunch of originals in the Christmas spirit, or just be yourself and damn the torpedoes. My latest favorite Christmas album, Bootsy Collins' Christmas is 4 Ever, takes the third path with a vengeance and ends up with one of the most fun Christmas albums I've listened to.

Bootsy, for the uninitiated (though that hardly seems possible), is the funky, funky bass player behind James Brown's late '60s output ("Sex Machine," "Super Bad,") and George Clinton's Parliament and Funkadelic (where he gained notoriety for his costumes — star-shaped sunglasses and thigh-high rhinestone studded space boots as well as his outer-space bass playing), and a pretty substantial run fronting his own combo, Bootsy's Rubber Band. This, in sum, is a man who could definitively answer Funkadelic's question, "What is soul?" So what, pray tell, is Bootsy doing facing down such white bread Christmas classics as "Jingle Bells," "Winter Wonderland," "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer," and "Silent Night"?

As you might expect, Bootsy solves the clash of genres by throwing a party. And a pretty damned good party too. The arrangements on this collection are tight, with key contributions from fellow ex-PFunk stars Bernie Worrell, Garry Shider, and Fred Wesley (who arranges the tight horn charts that propel the most spectacular songs and is the other James Brown alum on the record), and an array of guest vocalists ranging from the traditional R&B styles of a bunch of folks whose names I didn't recognize to some rap contributions by Snoop Dogg. There are voice cameos from other friends of Bootsy, from Buckethead and George Clinton to the late Roger Troutman, bringing Christmas greetings.

And damned if it doesn't all hang together. The horns make it feel like a Parliament reunion, and there's a propulsive funk beat that runs through the whole album that makes one want to stand up and dance. (For this writer that's no mean thing.) But for me the standout moment is deep in "Silent Night," which may be the only time this holiday standard has grooved, where Bootsy answers the sung line "Sleep in heavenly peace" with a fervent "You and me, baby!" Aah, right on.

And here's a review from my home town Salt Lake City Weekly:

Bootsy Claus
Bass ace Bootsy Collins on the funky spirit of Christmas.
by Randy Harward

"My favorite Christmas memory,” says Bootsy Collins, “was just lookin’ forward to bustin’ Santa Claus comin’ down the chimney. Even though we didn’t have a chimney.”

The master of the funkadelic space bass grew up poor; he didn’t get much from Santa or his parents on Christmas, but his recollections are warm. It’s no surprise. Collins’ irrepressible enthusiasm for pretty much everything oozes from his music, whether it’s his early funkin’ with James Brown or his contributions to the Mothership, the legendary Parliament/Funkadelic. When it comes to Christmas, Bootsy Collins’ gleaming white smile glows even brighter.

This is a guy who loves the holidays for all the right reasons. For him, it’s about loving your neighbor and spreading joy. This year, he’s doing it by firing up that star-shaped space bass on his very own Christmas album.

If Christmas music makes you want to yule in your lap, Christmas is 4 Ever (Shout Factory) will cure that. Drenched in Bootsy’s signature playful, thwomping bass funk, these Christmas classics and originals are familiar, but not like the taste of that third glass of eggnog. On “Jingle Belz,” Bootsy’s signature cheery croon—and interjections like “have no fear, my dear, ’cause Bootsy Claus is here” make it newly fun. “Be-With-You,” featuring a posthumous holiday voice mail from Roger Troutman—and Troutman’s brother Zapp on the talkbox—is a slow jam classic-in-waiting. There’s even a semi-novelty hit, when Bootsy teams with Charlie Daniels (“I named him Chucky, ’cause he’s funky”) for some space-bass-meets-fiddle funk. Only Bootsy Collins could make that sound good.

While certainly not the typical Christmas fare, Christmas is 4 Ever is as warm and fuzzy as any old Johnny Mathis or Harry Connick Jr. holiday platter. And whether you’re an O.G. or a shorty, you can’t escape the palpable joy. “Even if you don’t understand what I’m sayin’,” Bootsy says, “it’ll make you feel good.”


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