1/ Joyful Process (Worrell,Clinton) 4.22 2/ If You Got Funk, You've Got Style (Worrell,Clinton,Collins) 3.40 3/ GrooveAllegiance (Worrell,Clinton,Morrison) 4.13 4/ Sir Nose D'void of Funk (Worrell,Clinton,Collins) 3.52 5/ Wake Up (Worrell,Clinton,Jackson) 4.30 6/ You Hit the Nail On the Head (Worrell,Clinton,Haskins) 6.15 7/ Adolescent Funk (Worrell,Clinton,Hampton) 5.27 8/ Flashlight (Worrell,Clinton,Collins) 2.45 9/ Aquaboogie (Worrell,Clinton,Collins) 3.58 10/ Balance (Worrell,Clinton) 4.33 11/ The Moment (Worrell,McKenzie) 4.01 Recorded at Orange Music Sound, West Orange, New Jersey Engineer: James Dellatacoma Produced by Bernie Worrell and Bill LaswellBernie Worrell: Moog MiniMoog Model D Synthesizer, Hohner D6 clavinet, Hammond B-3 organ, Kawai PH-50 synthesizer, Hohner melodica, piano; Donald Sturge Anthony McKenzie II: drums.
2016 - Purple Woo Productions (USA), ???? (vinyl) 2016 - Purple Woo Productions (USA), ???? (CD)Note: Bill Laswell does not play on this album.
After leaving P-funk, Bernie has continued to work as a sideman with artists like Bill Laswell, Buckethead, various Talking Heads, Govt Mule, Les Claypool and others in the jam band scene. Worrell occasionally records as a leader, but he still does not grab a lot of attention, maybe its because his albums as a leader are not as strong as his contributions as a sideman. His latest release, “Retrospectives”, may be a good example of this. The premise behind “Retrospectives” sounds very promising at first, basically this is an album on which Bernie re-visits some of his favorite P-funk tracks and records instrumental versions of those tracks. To any long time Worrell and P-funk fan this is an exciting idea, but unfortunately the album does not come through as strongly as you wish it could. Some tracks are okay, but others are fairly lackluster.
Probably the biggest problem with this album is that it sounds like Worrell covered everything by himself. The drum tracks are not strong, nor is the production. An over reliance on ‘silly’ synthesizer sounds from the exotica era also becomes tedious and overbearing after a while. Many of these songs could use a little breathing room from all the persistent synthesizers. Overall this album sounds like a fun hobby home project, not the keyboard powerhouse it could have been. Possibly Worrell could get a good producer like Bill Laswell involved, and a real drummer, and these tracks could get a better life.
Despite the problems, there are some good tracks on here, “You Hit the Nail on the Head” is played reggae style with a melodica lead, and perennial favorite, “Flashlight”, is cloaked in string synth arrangements that Beethoven would be proud of. Possibly the two strongest tracks come at the end with “Balance” featuring a stronger drum sound and less synth clutter and “The Moment”, a punchy Prince style synth-rocker with the best production on the whole album. There are enough good moments on “Retrospectives” to make it worthwhile to Bernie Worrell fans, but you have to wonder what this would have sounded like if more time had been taken.
js (courtesy of the Jazz Music Archives website)
Keyboardist Bernie Worrell passed away on June 24, and his final album, Retrospectives, is a reminder of the legendary musician’s claim to fame as an ever-fresh and funky player. As keyboardist for groups like Parliament-Funkadelic, Bootsy Collins’s Rubber Band, Talking Heads and the countless other projects that Worrell has participated in over the course of his storied career, he developed a unique and ever-innovative style of playing and composing. In addition to acoustic pianos, Hammond B3s, Clavichords, MOOGs and Melodicas, Worrell is reported to have been the second musician to acquire an RMI (Stevie Wonder being the first to get the Rocky Mountain Instruments Electric Piano). It is doubtless true, however, that his alternatingly spacey and funky sounds set the tone for keyboardists who would employ these instruments from the 1970s through the present.
On Retrospectives, Worrell uses a variety of keyboard instruments to create rich musical tapestries—the record features only Worrell and two drummers, Donald Sturge and Anthony McKenzie II, but Worrell’s multitracked use of his veritable arsenal of keys lends the record a feel that is nearly orchestral at times. Even at his advanced age, Worrell’s playing was still sharp when recording these tracks—his funky Clavinet rhythms interweave with melodic synthesizers and richly textured organ sounds on “Joyful Process” (even quoting “Jesus Loves Me” on the tune’s introduction). Ever true to form, Worrell takes listeners “out there” on Retrospectives, too, bringing in the signature phased-out synth lines that were a trademark of his work in P-Funk’s catalog, taking it far out over steady piano-based grooves. Most of the record continues in this fashion, an ever-evolving collection of musical textures, grooves, and melodies. This is music to be slowly and gradually absorbed, preferably through a pair of high-quality headphones—my tinnitus acted up a bit on a few songs simply due to the incredible pitch range that Worrell employed on several tracks. This record makes it clear that Worrell didn’t lose his ability to be sonically and musically challenging with age.
While we may have lost a legend this month, Worrell’s musical legacy, as reflected on Retrospectives, is a rich and diverse one. This album is a wonderful way to cap off a truly remarkable career.
Matthew Alley (courtesy of the Black Grooves website)