1/  Perfect Machine                            (HH,BL,Skopelitis,Collins)    6.35
  2/  Obsession                                  (HH,Laswell,Collins,Bonner)   5.17
  3/  Vibe Alive                                 (HH,BL,BC,Bonner,Mico Wave)   5.25
  4/  Beat Wise                                  (HH,Laswell,Collins,Bonner)   5.50
  5/  Maiden Voyage/P. Bop                       (HH,BL,Collins,Skopelitis)    6.32
  6/  Chemical Residue                           (Hancock)                     6.00
  7/  Vibe Alive (Extended Dance Mix)            (HH,BL,BC,Bonner,Mico Wave)   8.13
  8/  Beat Wise (12-Inch Edit)                   (HH,Laswell,Collins,Bonner)   6.28

          Recorded at Quad Recording Studios, New York City and Garage Sale
            Recording Studios, Los Angeles
          Produced by Bill Laswell/Material and Herbie Hancock
          Associate Producer: Tony Meilandt
          Reissue (1999) produced by Bob Belden
Herbie Hancock: Apple/Mac Plus, Yamaha DX-1, DX-7, DX7 IIFD, Kurzweil K-250, Fairlight Series II and Series III, Akai 900-S, Roland Super Jupiter, Rhodes Chroma, Oberheim Matrix 12, Yamaha TX 8/16, acoustic piano, vocoder; William "Bootsy" Collins: bass, vocoder; Sugarfoot: vocals; Nicky Skopelitis: Fairlight Drums; D.ST.: turntables; Mico Wave: Mini Moog, bass, talk box, vocoder; Jeff Bova: synthesizer programming.

          1988 - CBS/Columbia (USA),  FC 40025-1  (Vinyl)
          1988 - CBS/Columbia (UK), 460679-1 (Vinyl)
          1988 - CBS/Columbia (USA), CK 40025 (CD)
          1999 - Columbia/Legacy/Sony (USA), CK 65960 (CD)
Note: Bill Laswell does not play on this album.
Note: The 1999 reissue contains an interview with Bill Laswell about the album.
Note: Only the 1999 releases contains tracks 7 and 8.


Back to Laswell and fusion, adding old-school funk legends Bootsy Collins on bass and Sugarfoot on vocals. Given all the talent on hand, it's surprising how dull this album is. Laswell was in a slump during the late 80's, with one production after another featuring lots of open space, electronic drums playing standard 4/4 patterns, minimal funk bass, and a small range of keyboard effects. As often happens with Laswell, he's so busy imprinting his sound onto the record that the leader is shoved aside. You only get to hear Hancock shine on "Maiden Voyage/P. Bop," where he plays some tasty piano, and the album closing "Chemical Residue" which manages to be lush and industrial at the same time. The rest of the tracks (including the single "Vibe Alive") sound like they were made up in the studio with the meter running, and they repeat endlessly.

2 stars out of 5

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