Back in the days when he was playing alongside George Clinton in Parliament/Funkadelic, Bootsy Collins set the standard for funk bassists everywhere. Collins, who wore ostentatious, glittery outfits (oversized sunglasses became his trademark), went on to have a semi-successful solo career after parting ways with Clinton. Cincinnati's Freekbass (bassist Chris Sherman, formerly of Shag) clearly draws from Collins, whom he recruited to executive produce this, his second album. And Collins leaves his musical fingerprints all over the disc, in the form of funky rhythms derived from Moogs and Mutron bass. The empty slogans repeated ceaselessly -- "grab your things and let's go for a ride" ("Baby, Baby") and "party in the big town" ("Freekbass 2YK") -- also recall the Parliament/Funkadelic days, when it was cool to sing about atomic dogs and mothership landings.
To his credit, Sherman doesn't just regurgitate old-school funk. He crosses into Lenny Kravitz territory with "Mission," lays down some booty bass rhythms on "Peppermint Leather," and evokes Prince in the title track. His band -- singer-keyboardist Beta-17, guitarist Sean McGary, drummer Swift, and saxophonist Joodi -- is versatile enough to swing from funk to soul and R&B. The players even turn out a reasonably solid hip-hop track with "Thang." But Sherman, who has compared working with Collins to the collaborations between Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones and Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, sells himself short by playing the kind of party music that goes over well on New Year's Eve, but sounds too mindlessly celebratory the other 364 days of the year.