Yesterday, we found Boots under the tree.
Today, we find Bootsy under the tree.
Two years ago, funk legend Bootsy Collins released a Christmas record that clearly bears his stamp, yet one that has surprisingly tender moments. It’s a remarkable re-imagining of some familiar songs, a mash that’ll be familiar to Christmas music fans and to P-Funk fans.
This earnestly spoken sample is the first thing you hear on the record:
“I’m sure there’s going to be more than one unpleasant surprise before we’re done.”
You can just imagine Bootsy standing there, his bass ready to go, with a wide smile on his face as he dives in. That said, why don’t we dive in?
“Merry Christmas Baby” — Definitely not Charles Brown’s version. It’s funked up, as you would imagine. Yeah, that’s Bootsy on the guitars and the Space Bass. The Nasty Natti Horns pump out a big backing track and there’s some fine Hammond organ by Morris Mingo.
“Jingle Belz (AKA Jingle Bells)” — You’ve heard this a million times. You’ve never heard it like this. The spoken lead-in — kids being asked “whattaya want for Christmas?” — and Boot-A-Claus’ laid-back vocals set the tone for this romp, which mashes in elements of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and “Joy to the World” in the last minute. Fred Wesley’s trombone is the backbone for the whole thing.
“Silent Night” — Backed by some elegant keyboards, Bootsy shares a warm, real memory of Christmas as a child in the first 1:30. Then it gives way to “Silent Night” as a slow funk jam with some sizzling vocals by Candis Cheatham. The pace picks up between verses, with more spirited jamming. You’ve never heard this like this, either.
All from “Christmas Is 4 Ever,” Bootsy Collins, 2006.
I’d already planned to go from Boots to Bootsy today, but there was no doubt about it after we saw Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and the Menahan Street Band with Charles Bradley last night. Christmas came early. One can never have enough funk in their stocking.