Straight Outta "P" University
(Private I/Mercury Records)
Bootsy Collins is known far and wide as "the funkiest man on the planet." having played bass with James Brown and co-piloting Parliament-Funkedelic before 'tooning-in to his inner, animated space case with Bootsy's Rubber Band. Collins hit a dry spell during the reign of corporate rock but has since proved his musical elasticity, recording everything from dance music with Deeelite to chaotic, ambient-noise-thrash-jazz alongside Bill Laswell, John Zorn and The Boredoms' Yamatsuka Eye as Praxis.
Bootsy Collins has "thrown on his jeans and Afrosheen" and cut a big, booty-shakin' party album. Equal parts rap and r&b, with a sprinkling of avant-rock touches (squelchy synth, mad scratching and a psycho loop of killer-bee horns), "P" University is heavy on the funk. Collins works his magic fingers on "Off da Hook" and "Funk Ain't Broke," offering everything from sharktooth-sharp slapping to quaky, low-fi fuzz. He can slink and slide all over creation, or he can play it minimal, with a handful of notes so smooth they melt in your ears like chocolate in the sun.
While "P" University is Collins' project -- he wrote or co-wrote both the music and lyrics, plays everything but the trombone and even gets behind the boards -- it's a heap of collaborations. Bootsy's playful catchphrases are mouthed by vocalists Brixx, Rodney O., Ono and D. Meka. Some are anthemic ("If the funk ain't broke, don't try to fix it/Give it to a DJ so he may mix it"), some are tongue-in-cheek ("I'd love to see your forest, but there's too many trees!"). Only a few tracks disappoint: "Pearl Drops" and "You're So Fragile" are tangled up in cookie-cutter R&B balladry while "Shiggy Wiggy" comes rash-inducingly close to Big Willy's style.
University is a great party favor -- not too silly, but classy, sassy, and big-bad-assy, with plenty of funky references to the past ("Wind Me Up," etc). As Bootsy says, "Move over, Rover, let the Funk take over!"