Stretchin' Out in Bootsy's Rubber Band (1976)

(Bootsy's Rubber Band)

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Track Listing:

Stretchin' Out (In a Rubber Band) {W Collins, G Clinton}  6:51
PsychoticBumpSchool {W Collins, G Clinton, B Worrell, Phelps Collins}  5:18
Another Point of View {W Collins, G Clinton, P Collins}  7:01
I'd Rather Be With You {W Collins, G Clinton, G Cooper}  4:57
Love Vibes {W Collins, Leslyn Bailey}  4:52
Physical Love {W Collins, G Clinton, Gary Cooper, Garry Shider}  4:46
Vanish In Our Sleep {W Collins, G Clinton}  5:49


Bass: Bootsy Collins
Guitar: Phelps Collins, Gary Shider, Michael Hampton, Bootsy Collins
Drums: Frankie Waddy, Cordell Mosson, Gary Cooper, Bootsy Collins
Sax: Maceo Parker, Randy Brecker
Trombone: Fred Wesley
Trumpet: Rick Gardner, Michael Brecker
Keyboards: Bernie Worrell, Sonny Talbert, Frederick "Flintstone" Allen
Vocals: Gary Cooper, Leslyn Bailey, Robert Johnson, Bootsy Collins

 "Stretchin' Out (In A Rubber Band)"
Vocals: Bootsy Collins, Gary "Mudbone" Cooper
Background Vocals: Robert "Peanut" Johnson
Guitars: Garry Shider, Michael Hampton
Keyboards: Bernie Worrell
Bass, Drums, Cowbell: Bootsy Collins
Tambourine: Gary "Mudbone" Cooper
Trumpet: Rick Gardner
Trombone: Fred Wesley
Alto Sax: Maceo Parker

 "I'd Rather Be With You"
Vocals: Bootsy Collins, Gary "Mudbone" Cooper, Robert "Peanut" Johnson
Wah-Wah Guitar, Bass: Bootsy Collins
Melodica, Keyboards: Bernie Worrell
Rock Guitar: Garry Shider
Drums: Cordell "Boogie" Mosson

 "Vanish In Our Sleep"
Vocals: Bootsy Collins, Gary "Mudbone" Cooper
Bass: Bootsy Collins
Guitar: Bootsy Collins, Garry Shider
Keyboards: Bernie Worrell
Drums: Cordell "Boogie" Mosson

Rating: GZ *****  RC ***** MM ****1/2


RC: The glorious beginning of the Bootsy-baby saga. There was a definite and specific style for the Rubber Band albums. Each album would have about six or seven songs, and half would be up-tempo groove numbers, and the other half would be ballads. For the most part, P.Funk albums are devoid of romantic ballad-type tunes, as George tended to be disdainful of them. He felt that it was too easy to get a big hit with that kind of subject matter. But with Bootsy, he definitely bucked this trend. George co-write a large majority of Bootsy tunes, as he got him his deal with Warner Brothers.

Bootsy's uptempo tunes were heavily bass-driven, with a large spotlight given to the Horny Horns. Catfish Collins held down the guitar chores, and this mostly was rhythm work. On this album, the uptempo songs (the first three tunes) introduce Bootsy as Casper the Ghost (either holy or friendly), who's "kind of friendly when I want to be, and funky otherwise." These songs are funny and very, very funky. The slow tunes are nearly pornographic and off-the-wall--certainly not your standard ballad. Gary "Mudbone" Cooper and Robert "P-Nut" Johnson handle most of the vocals on the slow tunes. Mudbone was a key element in the Rubber Band's success, as his distinctive, sweet, high tones were the final piece of the puzzle for many songs. But his versatility as a singer was also important, being able to sing many different kinds of parts. Having a great vocalist was key to widespread commercial success, and to making the ballads effective.

The Bootsy albums had very loose themes, if you could call them that. Rather than telling a specific story, the songs centered on the various characters that Bootsy came up with, all of whom were funky. An emphasis was placed on puns and wordplay, taking every concept to its logical conclusion. It was all very tongue-in-cheek and lighthearted, but still quite clever. The lyrics belied the heaviness of the music, with feedback-oriented solos appearing on the ballads, and supertight arrangements on the jams. It was a perfect blend of James Brown's fanatical precision and George Clinton's harmonized anarchy, with a band that was capable of playing any style of music at any time. No one had as much stage charisma as Bootsy, and no one could whip up a crowd like the Rubber Band.

"Stretchin' Out (In A Rubber Band)" features the guitar work of Hampton & Shider, and one of the hardest bass grooves ever. It introduces the spectral Casper, bringing us the 'elastic music' of his Rubber Band. This is truly prototypical Rubber Band, with an out-front bass groove, horns providing hooks, a Bootsy vocal/rap, ethereal keyboards, and delightful backup vocals. The song would prove to the set closer for many years. "PsychoticBumpSchool" is the album's true work of genius, with another hardcore groove matched against one of the greatest horn riffs of all time. The horn arrangement is today worked into the live arrangement of "Give Up The Funk". The guitar work is also rather intricate and subtle. The song works as the introduction to the band, talking about how the band is going to make all the hip kids gather 'round. It concludes with some mind-boggling bass licks from Bootsy matched against the horns. Truly, one of the greatest dance tunes of all time. "Another Point Of View" is a hard-rocking tune, with Bootsy's early leads giving over to Mudbone as the music swells. This is the closest to Funkadelic that the Rubber Band got, a reflection of Bootsy's days with the House Guests and Complete Strangers. "I'd Rather Be With You" is the first major showcase song for Mudbone, and also has an amazing solo from Bootsy. This one would become a live solo spotlight for Bootsy in the years to come. It's nicely accented by the drumming and finger-snap percussion. "Love Vibes" is the spotlight song for Leslyn Bailey, who had a beautiful voice that matched Mudbone's well. They could both hit the high notes with great skill. The intro to this song is great, with a piano, trumpet and snare setting up the initial vocals from Mudbone. Bailey's vocals are accented with the light percussion and quiet piano. "Physical Love" is a rather amusing tune about the virtues of, well, physical love. Eddie Hazel is the featured guitarist here, providing a soulful counterbalance to the upfront bass sound. "Vanish In Our Sleep" is a gorgeous send-off for the album, a mellow, dreamy tune that challenges societal approval for love. Bootsy's almost sleepy vocals make the song perfect, along with the weird keyboard effects.

The band originally was going to be called Bootsy's Early Sunn before Clinton & Collins hit on the Rubber Band concept, hitting on Clinton's love for puns and wordplay. Leslyn Bailey left the group after the first album/tour, totally freaked out by the wildness of the experience. Frederick Allen apparently didn't even play with the group, despite his album credit, according to Bootsy.

The album features a photo of Bootsy riding on a motorcycle through a fog. The back features his not-yet-completed Space Bass sitting on the back of the motorcycle. This was all sort of unusual, because P.Funk covers almost never had photographs of the players, or if they did, they were completely in character (and it was usually George). But it was clear that WB and Clinton wanted to push Bootsy all the way out front as a solo star. The album is out of print, but can be found fairly easily in a good used vinyl store, for anywhere from $5-25. It's also available on CD as an import, for anywhere from $25-35.