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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Stranger: Bernie Worrell on Earth

Posted on Thu, Nov 1, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Stranger: Bernie Worrell on Earth
Studio: MVD
WorkNameSort: Stranger: Bernie Worrell on Earth
The fat, funky bass line that defined the sound of Parliament’s biggest hits like “Flashlight”? That came from Bernie Worrell. Thing is, Bernie Worrell isn’t a bassist; he’s a keyboard player. As one of the many musicians whose all-pervasive influence lies invisible until it’s made obvious, Worrell has long been lionized by in-the-know musicians, but has had little success outside the Mothership besides a stint with the late-period Talking Heads. This hagiography strains diligently to make the case for his ascendance into the pantheon. Through interviews with many of the musicians – George Clinton, David Byrne, Mos Def, Prince Paul, Warren Haynes and others – who have been fortunate enough to perform with him, as well as with the words of a handful of critics and musical academics, Stranger spends much of its 39-minute length having other people expound on the Woo Warrior’s greatness. Tellingly, the only real say Worrell has in the film is through his keyboard playing. This is probably sufficient, as the 63-year-old’s health and financial struggles have rendered him none too eloquent in the verbal department. His prodigal youth is dealt with almost as briefly as his time in P-Funk, so this film is less a documentary and more of an elegant homage.

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