1/  Y-Spy                                      (Worrell,Jordan,Drayton)      4.27
  2/  B.W. Jam                                   (Worrell,Cooper,Polanco)      3.30
  3/  Funk-A-Hall-Licks                          (Worrell,Collins,Cooper)      5.20
  4/  Ain't She Sweet                            (Yellen,Ager)                 5.02
  5/  Straight Ahead                             (BW,PM,Small,SW,JD)           3.59
  6/  Real Life Dreams                           (Worrell,Nyce)                4.43
  7/  Sing                                       (Worrell,Hampton,Byrne)       4.34
  8/  Don't Piss Me Off                          (Worrell,Harrison,Midnight)   4.26
  9/  Beware of Dog                              (Worrell,Bowne,Bowne)         2.37
  10/ Volunteered Slavery/Bern's Blues/          (Kirk/Worrell/Sun Ra)         4.45
              Outer Spaceways
  11/ At Mos'Spheres                             (Worrell)                     3.55
  12/ Real Life Dreams On                        (Worrell,Nyce)                1.39

          Recorded at Gramavision Studio, NYC
          Tracks 10 and 11 recorded at Greenpoint Studio, Brooklyn, New York
          Recorded and mixed by Joe Blaney
          Assistant engineer: Tim Casey
          Tracks 10 and 11 engineered by Oz Fritz and Robert Musso
          Assistant engineers on tracks 10 and 11: Steve MacLoughlin and Paul Berry
          Tracks 10 and 11 mixed at Platinum Island by Jason Corsaro
          Produced by Joe Blaney and Bernie Worrell
          Tracks 10 and 11 produced by Bill Laswell
          Additional production and remix on tracks 2 and 4 by Goh Hotoda at
            Soundtrack Studio, NYC
          Additional production on track 3 by Michael Jonzun and Phil Green at
            Mission Control, MA
          Executive Producer: Jonathan F.P. Rose
          Mastered at Masterdisk, NYC by Bob Ludwig
Bernie Worrell: clavinet (1,2,3,5,6,9,12), synthesizer (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,12), organ (1,3,9,12), lead vocal (1,3,5,6,7), synth bass (2,4,5,7,8), percussion (2), backing vocals (2,8), piano (4), vocals (4,10), organ (6,7), samples (8), Hammond B-3 organ (10,11), electric piano (10), DX-7 (11); Steve Jordan: drums (1,3), guitar (1,6,12), percussion (1), vocal (1); Charley Drayton (1): bass, snare, lap steel guitar, percussion; Keith Richards: guitar (1,3,8); Gary "Mudbone" Cooper: vocals (1,4,10), drum programming (2), synth horns (2), samples (2), sequencing (2), backing vocals (2,3,5,7,8), percussion (6,12), lead vocals (8); Loren Qualls: vocals (1); Joe Polanco (2): drum programming, synth horns, samples, sequencing; Sheila Washington: backing vocals (2,3,5,6,7,8); Steve Washington & Jenny Douglas-McRae: backing vocals (2); William "Bootsy" Collins: bass (3,4), guitar (3), drum programming (4), vocals (4); Herbie Hancock: keyboards (3), synthesizer (4); Jimmy Ripp: guitar (3,5,6,7,8,12), banjo (4), electric sitar (7); Maceo Parker : saxophone (3), sax (9); Jody Bell: backing vocals (3,6,8); Doug Duffy: backing vocals (3,5); Larry Fratangelo: percussion (4,6,7,12); Steve Ferrone: drums (5,7); Warren McRae: bass (5); Patty Maloney, John DeNicola & Michael Camacho: backing vocals (5); Sly Dunbar: drums (6,12); Robbie Shakespeare: bass (6,12); Mike Hampton: guitar (7); David Byrne: backing vocals (7); Phoebe Snow: lead vocals (8); Jerry Harrison: organ (8); Dennis Chambers: drums (8); Chris Spedding: slide guitar (8); Davy D.: turntable (8); Jerome Brailey: percussion (8); Butch Alexander & Rosemary Camera : backing vocals (8); Vernon Reid: guitar (9); Doug Bowne: drums (9); Jimmy Hawkes: bass (9); Aiyb Dieng (10): chatan, conga, tambourine, bells; UPTOWN HORNS (2) - Crispin Cioe: alto and baritone sax; Arno Hecht: tenor sax; Paul "Hollywood" Littral: trumpet; Robert Funk: trombone.

Track 4 arranged by Bootsy and Bernie

          1990 - Gramavision (USA), R1 79460 (Vinyl)
          1990 - Gramavision (USA), R2 79460 (CD)
          1990 - Gramavision (USA), GCD 79460 (CD)
Note: Bill Laswell does not play on this album.
Note: The second CD release listed has a different track order.


Bernie's next solo album came after thirteen years of session playing, and he called in all his favors, getting a long list of guest stars. There's a surprising amount of solid rock and roll, including "Beware Of Dog" (with Vernon Reid on guitar), "Sing" (written with Mike Hampton and David Byrne) and best of all, "Don't Piss Me Off," with a stomping riff and energetic duet vocals from Phoebe Snow and Gary "Mudbone Cooper (one of three tracksfeaturing Keith Richards on rhythm guitar). And of course there's funk (the swirling "Y-Spy"): Bootsy drops by for a bizarre cover of "Ain't She Sweet" and the pleasant but ordinary "Funk-A-Hall Licks" - Herbie Hancock addskeyboards to both tracks. I've barely started listing the performers: Sly and Robbie turn up on "Real Life Dreams," Jimmy Rip adds guitar throughout, Maceo Parker adds sax, Steve Jordan, Jerry Harrison, percussionist Aiyb Dieng, the Uptown Horns, etc. In fact, there are so many guests you may forget it's Bernie's record, and it pulls in so many directions it ends up sounding paradoxically conventional. Produced by Joe Blaney and Bernie, except for two jazz organ features ("Volunteered Slavery/Bern's Blues/Outer Spaceways" and "At'Mos'Spheres") produced by Bill Laswell.

3 1/2 stars out of 5

David Bertrand Wilson (courtesy of the Wilson and Alroy's Record Reviews website)


Seven years after his last recording with the P.Funk Mob, Bernie came out with a project that featured his music once again. He had been solo work with a cornucopia of artists in the 80's, including the Talking Heads, Keith Richards, the Golden Palominos, Material, and others collaborating with the Bill Laswell gang. Many of those artists returned the favor and helped out on his first solo album in 12 years. A number of notable P.Funkers were on board as well, including Michael Hampton, Bootsy Collins, Gary 'Mudbone' Cooper, Larry Fratangelo, Maceo Parker, Dennis Chambers and Sheila Washington. The result is an interesting funk stew that neatly incorporates the wide variety of musicians present with his own grooving keyboard greatness. Many of the songs recall bits and pieces of past P.Funk works, but Bernie mainly explores rock and reggae here, with a few notable keyboard experiments. Also welcome is Bernie's extensive lead vocal work. His range is limited, but his soulfulness and expressiveness show through well.

"Sing" is a dreamy, funky rocker that really showcases Bernie's singing. "B.W. Jam" is a funky synth jam with an excellent horn arrangement. It recalls bits of "Flash Light" and "Rubber Duckie". "Funk-A-Hall-Licks" is a huge groove, with rhythm guitar master Keith Richards' stinging chords, Bootsy's fat bottom strokes and Bernie's funked-up lead vocals. Throw in Maceo blowing like he knows how and a reference to "Night Of The Thumpasorous Peoples" and you have a great track. "Ain't She Sweet" is a demented synth-cover of a dixielandsong. The best things about it are the percussion and funky bass; it recalls a bit of "A Joyful Process". "Y-Spy" really showcases Keith Richards and the other members of his solo band, the X-Pensive Winos. The sound is almost reggae, with some great chants. "Real Life Dreams" is straight-up reggae, with rhythm kings Sly & Robbie. "Beware Of Dog" is a kick-ass instrumental, a hard rocker (with Living Colour's Vernon Reid) with Maceo blowing again. "Straight Ahead" has some funky clavinet playing and good singing. "Don't Piss Me Off" is very funky, with great singing from Mudbone and a grooving synth bass. "Volunteered Slavery..." is a weird and slow funk/jazz experiment something that would be further explored on later albums. "At Mos' Spheres" is acover of his own song from Funkadelic's Let's Take It To The Stage, a bit shorter and funkier than the original. "Real Life Dreams On" continues on the rhythm of the earlier tune on the album, closing out the theme.

3 1/2 stars out of 5

Rob Clough (courtesy of the Motherpage website)


Keyboardist Bernie Worrell was one of the key members of George Clinton's "Parlaifunkadelicment Thang" and he later went on to work as a sideman with everyone from Talking Heads to Keith Richards, as well as a long series of projects with producer and Material mastermind Bill Laswell. But outside of All the Woo in the World, a tossed-off project which got lost in the glut of P-Funk-related product released in the late '70s, it wasn't until 1991 that Worrell applied his estimable talent to an album with himself as headliner. Funk of Ages is a glossy set of funk workouts and jazz-influenced side trips with an impressive list of guest stars (including David Byrne, Keith Richards, Vernon Reid, Herbie Hancock, Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare, and Maceo Parker), and while Worrell certainly gives himself plenty of room to show off his estimable skill at the keyboard, he also has the good sense to make room for his friends and collaborators, giving the album the sound and feel of a group effort rather than a declaration of musical independence. In fact, if the album has a flaw, it's that it lacks a central presence giving the material an anchor; this eternal sideman certainly has the skills to take the reins on an album, but this set suggests he lacks the ego to do so (and he's not much of a lead singer). But his years with Clinton and Laswell have taught Worrell more than a little about the fine art of getting a groove on, and Funk of Ages serves up thick, juicy rhythms topped with smart and flavorful melodic support; it's a more ambitious and enjoyable album than anything George Clinton cooked up on his own in the 1990s.

4 1/2 stars out of 5

Mark Deming (courtesy of the All Music Guide website)