Forgotten series: Bernie Worrell – Blacktronic Science (1993)

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NICK DERISO: From the trembling strains of the first harpsichord notes here, to the rappy backbeat that follows, to the bubbling funk from later on, to the hard jazz moving through this album after that, it’s clear …

Bernie Worrell — the original keyboardist with Parliament-Funkadelic— is crazy.

But in a good way.

And we were only on track four. You could almost hear the sound of jaws dropping.

Even with all of that, though, this album retains the comfortable feel of capitulation. This marks a celebrated reunion for Worrell with bandmates George Clinton, Bootsy Collins and Mudbone Cooper, who played together on “Blacktronic Science” for the first time in more than decade.

The best of these new collaborations was “Dissinfordollars,” with its thrilling groove, and a sound that just gets more and more dense. As with the best of the old P-Funk stuff, you’ll hear a kind of kitchen-sink soul — with horns, Mini Moog, sound effects, drum loops and vocals continually piling on. Soon, it was lumbering, like it always would, toward something retro and divine … the mothership!

Maceo and Fred also peek out — positively leak out, really — on “The Vision.”

The most interesting side roads, though, feature Maceo sitting in with Worrell and Tony Williams, from the second great Miles Davis group. This deft combination of Hammond B-3, drums and alto could have filled an entire, challenging album of its own.

But that’s not the way of one Bernie Worrell, who remains frisky and deep. His swirling orchestral bits and loopy keyboards bolster a funky R&B hybrid that still can’t be fenced into something so pedestrian as trio jazz.

“Won’t Go Away,” for instance, has the sweeping strings of a mid-1970s tune, until Mike G from the Jungle Brothers barges in with a hip-hop spoken interlude.

Midway through this album, somebody yells out: “Hey, Bernie, this is funky.

That’s just the beginning.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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