Bernie Worrell

  • Bernie Worrell
  • Funk of Ages (Gramavision) 1990 

P-Funk keyboardist and composer Worrell’s synthesizer basslines helped redefine modern funk, a fact that wasn’t lost on the legions of stiff new wave white boys suddenly possessed by the need to get down. Hence, when David Byrne fell under that compulsion in the early ’80, he enrolled Worrell in the extended Talking Heads family. Stints with the Golden Palominos followed, and Worrell even became a Pretender for one LP.

Funk of Ages finds him in a rare spotlight, jamming with Maceo Parker and Bootsy Collins, calling on the many friends he made during years of session work: Sly and Robbie, Keith Richards, Chris Spedding, Vernon Reid and Jerry Harrison are only part of the all-star cast. And because the man’s a genius, the result sounds like an exuberant, no-holds-barred funk party rather than another tired supersession. At its best, the songwriting has real bite; at the least it carries a strong groove. Things falter a bit when Byrne, as affected as he’s ever been, turns up. Other than that, Funk of Ages lives up to its title. As revolutionary as Worrell’s work has been (and continues to be), the borderline-goofy, uniquely P-Funkitized party atmosphere that it evokes is something you don’t hear much of these days.

[Glenn Kenny]