Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bootsy Collins Announces New Album Titled Tha Funk Capital of the World

Funk legend Bootsy Collins recently announced the upcoming release of his new album Tha Funk Capital of the World. The album is set to drop April 26, and it will be the first studio album the iconic bass man has released in nearly five years. According to, Bootsy recorded the album as a way to memorialize some of his musical heroes, including James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and P-Funk guitarist/singer Garry Shider, who passed away last June. Bootsy explained to how he was inspired to record the new album: "In 2008 we went out and did a tribute to James Brown tour many of the JBs together as I could," he said. "That really got me thinking about all these great cats who are no longer around and how people are just forgetting about them, and the music is becoming so watered down now. We're forgetting the ones that really opened the door."

Tha Funk Capital of the World was recorded over the last two and a half years and consists of 16 tracks. The album features a diverse array of guest stars. Some of those joining Bootsy on the album include hip hop heavyweights Ice Cube, Chuck D and Snoop Dogg; Dr. Funkenstein himself George Clinton; Bootsy's late brother guitarist Phelps "Catfish" Collins; banjo phenom Bela Fleck; jazz mavens George Duke and Herbie Hancock; guitar virtuoso Buckethead; actor Samuel L. Jackson; the Rev. Al Sharpton; soul legend Bobby Womack; and Princeton scholar Cornel West.

Bootsy told Billboard that he wanted to mix it up a bit and not make it solely a funk album: "I wanted to add a little rock, a little jazz, a little gospel in there, just come up with this thing where I can break out into a whole new kind of area," he explained. "You still get a whole lot of funk, but at the same time we took a few different approaches."

The P-Funk alum plans to tour behind the album this year and is currently making appearances at the NAMM Show (which runs January 13-16) in Anaheim, California. He is also set to appear at the private Hard Rock Funk Legends show in New York City on Feb. 28.

Download album at Amazon

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Earth, Wind & Fire's Shining Star: Funk that Inspires

Clocking in at just 2:50, Earth, Wind & Fire's "Shining Star" is pure sonic perfection. The monster track is one of the band's most recognized songs and is a timeless classic. Written by EWF members Maurice White, Philip Bailey and Larry Dunn, the track illustrates how the band could flawlessly meld genres. The record is a superb fusion of heavy-duty funk, radio-friendly pop and a pinch of hard rock thrown in for good measure.

"Shining Star" was the lead-off single from the band's multi-platinum album That's The Way of The World, and they couldn't have chosen a better song to launch the LP. When the song exploded on the airwaves in early 1975, Earth, Wind & Fire were already an established and successful R&B/funk act with a sizable black following. "Shining Star" was instrumental in helping the band reach an even wider audience. I believe it was the irresistible chorus that clinched the song's crossover appeal. It sounds universal and is catchy as hell; you can imagine people across the globe singing along and grooving to it. It's one incredible hook.

The song also boasts stellar vocal performances from Maurice and Philip. Maurice's fiery tenor nicely complements Philip's soaring falsetto. Their vocal trade-offs give the song that extra punch needed to take it over the top. Verdine White lays down a massive earth-shaking bass line, and guitarist Al McKay delivers a scorching rock-flavored solo. And the horns accentuate the groove with hot salvos of brass funk.

"Shining Star" shot to the top of both the R&B and pop charts and sold more than a million copies. The song earned the band a Grammy at the 1976 Grammy Awards for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

The song has turned up in numerous movies and TV shows. It's probably most recognized among television viewers for the episode of Seinfeld where the rhythmically challenged Elaine attempted to get her groove on to the song.

The track's inspirational lyrics touch on one of the band's favorite motifs: self-love, dignity and faith in oneself, that every individual, no matter what station in life, is special and has inherent worth. Just hearing the groove can make you feel better about yourself... well for 2:50 anyway.

Download at Amazon