Ultra Wave (1980)


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Track Listing:

Mug Push {Phelps Collins, W Collins, G Clinton}  3:49
F-Encounter {W Collins, Rick Evans, Ron Ford, G Clinton}  7:35
Is That My Song? {W Collins, David Spradley}  3:42
It's A Musical {W Collins, G Clinton, Carl Small}  4:47
Fat Cat {P Collins, W Collins}  7:03
Sacred Flower {W Collins, G Clinton}  6:48
Sound Crack {W Collins}  7:06


Guitars: Catfish & Bootsy Collins ("F-Encounter": Rick Evans)
Keyboards: Joel Johnson, David Lee Chong ("F-Encounter": Mark Johnson)
Drums: Bootsy Collins ("F-Encounter": Jerry Jones)
Percussion: Carl "Butch" Small, Bootsy Collins (Casper)
Horny Horns: Maceo Parker, Fred Wesley, Richard Griffith, Larry Hatcher
Lyricon Solo, "Sacred Flower": David McMurray
SpaceBass/Bass Things: Bootsy Collins/Ystoob/Casper
Vocals: Godmoma, Brandy (Telma Hopkins, Joyce Vincent), Parlet, The Brides, 
 Robert "P-Nut" Johnson, Bootsy Collins ("Kurtisy Mouthfool on the 
 vocal Fruit-A-Sizer")

 "Mug Push"
Vocals: Bootsy Collins
Background Vocals: Robert "P-Nut" Johnson, Cynthia Girty, Tony Walker,
 Carolyn Miles (the last three collectively known as Godmoma)
Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Drums: Bootsy Collins
Keyboards: David "Chong" Spradley
Guitar: Phelps "Catfish" Collins

Rating: GZ: *** RC: ****


RC: Bootsy had lost the rights to the 'Rubber Band' name by this time, and the band had pretty much broken up anyway by then. Bootsy pushed on and recorded under his own name, and the result was an eclectic album that was very different from the previously established Rubber Band formula. In addition to a normal Rubber Band-style upbeat horn number and ballad ("It's A Musical" and "Sacred Flower"), he also threw in a Funkadelic "Knee Deep"-type dance number ("F-Encounter"), a straight-up blues dance song ("Is That My Song?"), a couple of slap bass-heavy guitar numbers ("Mug Push" and "Fat Cat"), and a take-off on New Wave music ("Sound Crack"). Bootsy did most of the guitar, drum and percussion work on the album, taking away some of the excitement of the band's chemistry. Razor and Catfish are still around, although their presence is somewhat muted. The most jarring change is that of the vocals. Gary 'Mudbone' Cooper is gone, replaced by a large number of female backup vocalists, including the Brides of Funkenstein, Parlet, Brandy, and Godmoma, Bootsy's own project. On some of the songs, they work extremely well; on others, you find yourself really wishing Mudbone would come back. The overall effect is to make the album sound less heavy than the earlier Rubber Band wax, which made it much more difficult to get into at first. Repeated listenings showed that Bootsy had broken out of his slump musically, taking on a wide variety of styles with ease and relish. Lyrically, it's many steps beyond This Boot..., with a number of clever themes and some great wordplay. The most notable backup singer is George Clinton, who chimes in randomly at several points.

"Mug Push" starts off with the tune to the folk song "Shortnin'" with a funky bass that stops and goes to an acoustic guitar, then a pause, and then it launches into the song. The song puns on rocks, as in throwing rocks, falling rocks, rock n roll, and subtly, the kind of rock that goes in a pipe. It touches on other old songs like "Dem Bones" and "Over The Rainbow": 'somewhere over a rock, there's a rainbow!" "F-Encounter" is a "Knee Deep"-style dance tune that talks about working for his baby. It's somewhat monotonous after the initial draw of the lyrical hooks. The song sounds a bit hollow, with little guitar presence, and the backup vocals sounding disco-ish. "Is That My Song" veers off into an R&B jam, with a boogie shuffle on the piano and handclaps propelling it rhythmically. Movie references abound here on this lighthearted number. "It's A Musical" may be the best cut, a classic Rubber Band song driven by a memorable horn riff. The song is a bit reminiscient of Funkadelic's "Standing On The Verge..." in terms of its pace and intensity, and Parliament's "Let's Play House" (recorded at about the same time) in terms of its rhythms. Fantastic slap bass all the way, and Bootsy is really singing his heart out. "Fat Cat" is a disappointingly monotonous guitar-bass centered tune, again weakened by disco-ish backing vocals. "Sacred Flower" is one of Bootsy's most underrated ballads, an absolutely ingenious, continual play of words. Bootsy compares plant life to love life, coming up with witticisms like 'Let's be fruitful and multiply', 'like a hummingbird, humming `round your two-lips', 'We'll be laying up in our flower bed', 'I used to work in a plant', etc. The song owes a bit to "I'd Rather Be With You" and "What's A Telephone Bill." "Sound Crack" is a weird fuzz bass odyssey that contains some clever lyrics making fun of various musical trends. The whole album is an example that staying locked into a single sound or style, and playing it up as a point of superiority, was just plain silly.

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 $20-35. The cover features Bootsy in braids!