Picks and Pans Review: Funk of Ages

updated 12/03/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/03/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

Bernie Worrell

One of funk's founding fathers. Worrell will ring your bells but good with this album. Some of these songs may give you amnesia—the kind where you come to your senses after the music ends and wonder where you've been the past four minutes. The answer, Farquhar. is probably that you've been dancing to beat the band.

How does Worrell do it? The ingredients are simple—booming bass, layered keyboards, spiky guitars and jolting horns, all working as slaves to the rhythm. So why isn't the formula duplicated? Lord knows, people try. But Worrell must have a secret. If it were so easy to create an intoxicating groove, every club kid would be a star.

Worrell developed his technique as a member of Parliament-Funkadelic, and has played with a Who's Who of rock—from the Stones to Talking Heads to the Pretenders. His stature is evident in the roster of pals who sit in on this album: among them, Keith Richards. Herbie Hancock. Bootsy Collins and Sly and Robbie. The helping hands add such touches as Jimmy Ripp's yodeling guitar riff on "Straight Ahead."

At times. Bernie shoots off on weird tangents. With Bootsy, he offers a riotous version of "Ain't She Sweet." "Volunteered Slavery/Bern's Blues/OuterSpaceway" is a medley that takes Worrell to remote jazz outposts. He also tries a few ballads with light reggae flavoring. "Real Life Dreams" and "Sing," that try his vocal abilities.

Within his own métier, though, Worrell can't be touched. If you've heard better dance music this year than "Y-Spy" and "B.W. Jam." you've been on a different, far funkier planet. Groove us to your leader. (Gramavision)

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