1/  B-Boys                                     (Hendryx,RD,JM,CR,Gale)       5.30
  2/  Living On the Border                       (Drayton,Hendryx)             5.33
  3/  Keep It Confidential                       (Greenwich,Kent,Foley)        5.50
  4/  Design For Living                          (Hendryx,Staples,Pope)        5.22
  5/  Transformation                             (Hendryx,Staples,Pope)        5.32
  6/  Run For Cover                              (Allington,Drayton,Hendryx)   4.30
  7/  Steady Action                              (Hendryx,MA,JA,JM,KF)         5.13
  8/  Dummy Up                                   (Hendryx)                     4.30
  9/  B-Boys (12" version)                       (NH,Drayton,JM,Rojas,Gale)    6.35
  10/ B-Boys (Instrumental)                      (Hendryx,RD,Maciel,CR,Gale)   6.52
  11/ B-Boys (Single Version)                    (Hendryx,RD,JM,CR,Gale)       4.04
  12/ Keep It Confidential                       (Greenwich,Kent,Foley)        5.50
      (Special Extended Club version)
  13/ Keep it Confidential (Single Version)      (Greenwich,Kent,Foley)        3.48
  14/ Steady Action (Single Version)             (NH,JM,JA,Fullen,Allison)     3.55
  15/ Transformation (Single Version)            (Hendryx,Pope,Staples)        3.59

          Basic tracks recorded at OAO Studios, Brooklyn, New York
          Engineer at OAO: Martin Bisi
          Overdubs, vocals and mixing at RPM Sound Studios, NY
          Engineer at RMP: Dominick Maita
          Assistant: Mike Krowiak
          Studio Manager: Paul Stevens
          Studio Assistant: Bob Sheppard
          Track 11 mixed by John 'Tokes' Potoker and remixed by 'Jellybean' Benitez
          Tracks 12 and 15 remixed at Alpha International, Philadelphia
          Tracks 12 and 15 remixed by David Todd and Nick Martinelli
          Engineer: Bruce Weeden
          Assistant engineer: Jason Lyle
          Produced by Material and Nona Hendryx
          Musical Assistance: Jerry Harrison and Roger Trilling
          Mastered by Howie Weinberg at Masterdisk
          Reissue Producer: Tony Calvert
          Assistant Producer: Randy Mahon
          Production Manager: Matt Murphy
          Remastered by Maria Triana
Nona Hendryx: vocals, synthesizers; Trevor Gale (1,2,6,9,10,11): drums; Gina Schock & Carol Steel (4): drums; Sly Dunbar (5,7,15): drums; Kashif (1,3,9,10,11,12,13): synthesizer, bass synthesizer; Wizard (1,5,9,10,11,15): synthesizers; Raymond Jones (1,2,7,9,10,11,14): keyboards; Bernie Worrell (2,8): keyboards; Ira Siegel (1,2,9,10,11): guitar; Ronnie Drayton (1,2,6,7,9,10,11,14): guitar; Daryl Burgee (1,9,10,11): percussion; Carmine Rojas (2,7,8,14): bass; Steve Scales (2,5,6,7,8,14,15): percussion; Jamaladeen Tacuma (3,12,13): bass; Kenni Hairston (3,12,13): keyboards; Nile Rogers (3,12,13): guitars; Tina Weymouth & Kim Clarke (4): bass; Valerie Simpson (4): acoustic piano; Nancy Wilson (4): guitar; Laurie Anderson (4): violin; Kevin Staples (5,15): bass synthesizers, guitars; Bill Laswell (6): bass; Michael Beinhorn (6): synthesizers; Olu Dara (7,14): horns; The Headless Horseman (8): guitar; B.J. Nelson, Dolette McDonald, Michelle Cobbs, Kevin Owens, Kenni Hairston, Patti LaBelle & Carole Pope: background vocals.

Arrangements by Bill Laswell, Michael Beinhorn, Nona Hendryx and Ronnie Drayton

          1983 - RCA Records (USA), AFL1-4565 (Vinyl)
          1983 - RCA Records (France), PL 14565 (Vinyl)
          2012 - Funky Town Grooves (UK), FTG-273 (CD)
Note: Tracks 9-15 only appear on the 2012 version.
Note: The 2012 version was limited to 2000 copies.


In another abrupt departure from her earlier work, Hendryx produced this collection of minimalist synth-funk with Bill Laswell's Material. The debts to Prince and disco are clear, as "B-Boys" lifts not just the groove but lyrics from Chic's "Good Times." When the approach works, as on the spacey "Transformation" and the scary love song "Keep It Confidential," it's fascinating. More often, though, it's just repetitive and self-consciously weird, and lots of big-name guests are wasted because they're not given the chance to really play, including Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Nile Rodgers, and the all-female band on "Design For Living": Valerie Simpson, Laurie Anderson, Tina Weymouth, even Go-Go Gina Schock and Heart's Nancy Wilson, not to mention LaBelle on backing vocals. I've got to give Hendryx credit for moving so far to the avant-garde twenty years into her career, even if the record seems dated these days.

3 stars out of 5.

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


Nona is one of the earliest starry Material (Bill Laswell) pop productions that predates Herbie Hancock's Future Shock ("Rockit"), Yoko Ono's Star Peace or even Mick Jagger's She's The Boss. The groups change out from song to song, as is typical on a Bill Laswell production, but each features some exceptionally talented musicians plying their trade for an effective and satisfying end – another typical trait of a Bill Laswell production.

Hendryx co-writes most of the material here, but it has her absolutely unique stamp all over it. She partners perfectly with B.J. Nelson (from Material) and Dolette McDonald (from Talking Heads) on background vocals and conceives a well-written, well-arranged program of great staples – among the best in her voluminous catalog.

The danceworthy "B-Boys," is a made-to-order hit for 80s dancefloors, with the uber-talented Kashif (who more or less made Whitney Houston, an early Material discovery, a star) on the signature bass synthesizer. It's not the best number on the album. But it's a clever way to entice interest in what follows.

One of Hendryx's very best confessional anthems, "Keep it Confidential," which also appears on the recent CD compilation Disco Discharge – Disco Ladies, features a number of great performances – including one of Hendryx's best vocal performances on the album – and above average support from Nile Rodgers on guitar, Kenni Hairston on keyboards, Kashif on synthesizers and Jamaaladeen Tacuma on bass.

"Design for Living" was originally written for a Labelle album that didn't get issued because the group disbanded before the song could be released. Here, Nona Hendryx reconfigures the song into a "women power" anthem featuring a gaggle of great women musicians including Laurie Anderson, inspired on violin, Heart's Nancy Wilson on guitar, the brilliant Valerie Simpson of Ashford & Simpson on piano, Talking Heads' Tina Weymouth and Defunkt's Kim Clarke on bass, The Go Go's Gina Schock on drums, Carole Steel on percussion and Patti Labelle on background vocals.

The album's best song comes at the beginning of side two with "Transformation," a great track that mixes new wave with soul better than almost anything else that ever came out of the early 80s dance movement at the time. The song features Sly Dunbar on drums, "Wizard" on synthesizer and Steve Scales on percussion (who was also with the Talking Heads at the time that Hendryx was). Interestingly, "Transformation" was re-recorded recently as something of an anthem by Nona Hendryx with Pam Grier (Foxy Brown, Jackie Brown) and BETTY for The L Word: The Third Season soundtrack.

The remainder of the album features one of my favorites, the great and very One Down sounding "Run for Cover," featuring Material-ists Bill Laswell on bass and Michael Beinhorn on synthesizer, the Reggae-esque "Steady Action," featuring Olu Dara on "horns" and the very Talking Heads-like "Dummy Up," prominently featuring Bernie Worrell, who also appears on "Living on the Border" and who also prominently featured at the time as part of the Talking Heads (a shame that David Byrne and company never asked Nona Hendryx to contribute material to their already wonderful program…she would have made some sparkling additions to be sure). So who is "The Headless Horseman" who sounds so wonderful on guitar?

Three singles were issued from Nona: "Keep it Confidential" b/w "Dummy Up" (the 45, RCA PB-13437, contains a 3:48 edit of "Keep It Confidential" while the 12-inch, RCA PD-13438, contains the album-length versions of both songs); "Transformation" b/w "Design for Living" (the 45 on RCA PB-13559 and the 12-inch on RCA PD-13560); and "B-Boys" b/w "Steady Up" (the 45, RCA PB-13643, contains a 4:04 edit of "B-Boys" while the 12-inch, PD-13644, has a longer take of "B-Boys" at 6:35 backed by a 6:52 instrumental version of the song). And while Nona has yet to be issued on CD – which, in my book, is something of a criminal offense – four of the albums songs ("Transformation," "Keep it Confidential," "B-Boys" and "Design for Living") were issued on a Razor & Tie compilation CD in 1999 that has also been long out of print. Wrong, wrong. Wrong.

Doug Payne (courtesy of the Sound Insights website)