Ok, so over the last 3 months I’ve personally witnessed performances by The Brides Of Funkenstein (Dawn Silva), by George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic and by Bootsy’s Rubberband. Of course I’m going to rank and compare, maybe. First off, nobody does it better than GC & P-funk- even on the night’s the very sound of the band I love to death has irritated me- BUT there are elements to each of these P-funk entities that seem to stand out. (and that I wish very deeply could be combined at least one time). But before I go into that, the first thing I must address is how lucky, blessed and truly treasured I feel to hear the music I absolutely love sooooo much played live “properly” 40 years after I heard that first note of Mothership Connection that changed my life. Literally changed me forever and inspired a life long passion that has never ever waned. There shall be no other.
Last night Bootsy and them did their version of Mothership Connection with Gary “Mudbone” Cooper calling the mothership. The most important thing about this song to me is the tempo. The 420 Funk Mob may have hit the best tempo ever if you ask me, but GC & P-funk have had nights (Long Beach Funkfest for one) where the tempo combined with the stage power makes it basically untouchable by anything in the universe. But what was interesting about Bootsy’s version was the two bass? and maybe synth? that was used. The tempo was “slow” enough to be in the good zone and the drums and vocals did the damn thing. The horns did ok to good, but nobody comes close to Mr Thomas and Mr. Cowan after many years of hearing it their way (speaking of which after years and years and years of hearing Mr Hampton play “his” P-funk parts and his sound it’s almost like nobody but him should even attempt to play them, but I know that’s playfully dramatically unreasonable).
Ok, where was I? Oh yeah, now the “swing down” calling the mothership part where Bootsy space bassed and Mr Cooper called took it to another level. Musically Bootsy did that part maybe “better” than any, I mean the intensity felt like I may have never heard it. Now I’ve heard Greg Thomas and Danny Bedrosian (420 FM), Steve Boyd (GC & PF) call the mothership and Mr Cooper’s version was good no doubt- BUT it was done in what I call the “Bootsy sound.” and that leads me to maybe the crux of the matter.
Even back in the day to me Bootsy’s music “lacked” something that Parliament & Funkadelic music had. Not sure, but like a gritty nastiness, that thang Mr Clinton puts on it to make it “hard” or whatever. And even to this day and last night and even when Bootsy was out with the “allstar” line-up (Waddy, Blackbyrd and Bernie, etc) well maybe then that version may have come almost unrecognizably close (maybe maybe)- BUT the point is to me Mr Collin’s version of P-funk needed Mr. Clinton and noticing the parts that stood out good last night GC & P-funk “lack” the parts of that sum’n sum’n Mr Collins brings. And in a round about way this supports my personal feelings about the first true FUNK that began with Mothership Connection and the united works of Collins and Clinton. To me Parliament is on a level all to itself. No other entity in the universe comes close to touching those albums (after Mothership Connection) and in my mind this is what defined and created FUNK (no, not James Brown). So last night when I’m hearing Mr Collins get at that cleanish, tightish, rehearsedish, banging on the one there was something “missing” that the motherband GC & P-Funk ooooze all over the place with. Also with Dawn Silva (Chenault, Blackbyrd) and the Brides of Funkenstein, hearing them hit that spot the way they did and like ONLY people who served directly in the P-funk camp can. (Lige Curry’s band hits it too. Also Katdelic, though I wish I could see the difference if they played more often to black and rhythmic crowds). For me personally, there is a certain way P-funk music should be hit and I recognize it immediately when it is. (The vocals of Silva and the Brides stand way way out and above and I couldn’t help wonder what if what if WHAT IF it all could be on the same stage at one time!!!!)
Again, where was I? Let me set my current situation and state of mind: its 5:44am, I’m at work after having driven to Sandy Eggo after 8 hours of work from L.A. to funk with Bootsy front row center for 2.5 hours, and then driving back to L.A. and going directly to work after an hour of sleep in the car 13 hours after I got off work. I haven’t been home and haven’t showered. Did I say that tight?
Anyways, the over the counter diet pill euphoria is kickin’ in as I’m still filled with that funk feeling after having Bootsy kiss me on my head and being smack dab front and center giving it to the band just as hard as they are kicking it to the audience. Over the years I’ve come to realize how big and black and happy and animated and rhythmic and on it and how in everybody’s face on stage I can be watching them like I’m a judge of some kind of funk Olympic performance because it is that critical, special and sacred to me and its obvious how serious I’m taking this that the music I LOVE is not “compromised” by THE ONES I look to like gods to play it “right.” Other bands can play it however the hell they want but there is an integrity I look to like worship that can very much disrupt my universe if blasphemed upon by my funk gods. But hey, I think as I’ve gotten older I’ve softened a bit but not enough not to expect p-funk excellence every night from my funk gods. I don’t want my feelings hurt and they have been because I will not lower my expectations. I will just have to be disappointed like with the recent gate shaking- BUT the reward when my funk gods give it to me the way I LIKE it there is no better high musically for me- NONE NONE NONE nothing and no band has ever compared to the way P-funk music does it.
I’m rambling. And a funk I don’t give about that because it’s been awhile and I’m in that funk zone that Mr Collins and Mr Waddy and Mr Cooper and Mr Johnson and etc have put me in. And it feels good. Like I said Bootsy’s style of P-funk ain’t like GC & PFunk’s and I don’t want to say it ain’t as “pure” I really don’t want to say that, maybe not as stanky? But they brought it last night and gave it to me good. And oh yeah, that Bootsy in the crowd touch somebody STILL to this day funks me up!!!!