1/ Memory Serves (Laswell,Beinhorn) 5.08 2/ Disappearing (Dara,Sharrock,BL,MB,Maher) 7.11 3/ Upriver (Bang,Laswell,MB,Maher) 5.25 4/ Metal Test (Frith,Laswell,MB,Maher) 4.30 5/ Conform To the Rhythm (Laswell,Beinhorn,Frith) 4.30 6/ Unauthorized (Sharrock,Laswell,Maher) 3.50 7/ Square Dance (Frith,Laswell,Maher) 4.29 8/ Silent Land (Lewis,Laswell,Beinhorn) 3.48 9/ For A Few Dollars More (Morricone) 4.22 Recorded at OAO Studio, Brooklyn, New York Track 9 recorded at Radio City and Green Street Studios Engineered by Martin Bisi Mixed at Sorceror Sound, NYC by Martin Bisi, Michael Beinhorn, Bill Laswell and Fred Frith Produced by Material with Martin Bisi Track 9 produced by MaterialBill Laswell: 4, 6 and 8 String bass; Sonny Sharrock (1,2,3,4,5,6): guitar; Fred Frith (1,4,5,7): guitar, violin, xylophone; Henry Threadgill (2,6,7): alto saxophone; George Lewis (1,7,8): trombone; Henry Kaiser (9): guitar; Olu Dara (2,3): cornet; Billy Bang (3,6): violin; Robert Musso (9): guitar; Grand Mixer D.S.T. (9): turntable; Daniel Ponce (9): percussion; Anton Fier (9): drums; Charles K. Noyes (1,8): drums, percussion, bells; Fred Maher (1,2,3,4, 5,6,7): drums, guitar, percussion; Michael Beinhorn: synthesizers, tapes, radio, guitar, drums, voice.
1981 - Celluloid/Disques Vogue (France), 529812 (Vinyl) 1981 - Celluloid/Island (USA), ILPS 9693 (Vinyl) 1981 - Celluloid Records (Germany), 204 291-320 (Vinyl) 1982 - Musician/Elektra (USA), EI 60042 (Vinyl) 1982 - Elektra Musician (Canada), XE1-60042 (Vinyl) 19?? - Celluloid (France), CEL. N.Y. 5508 (CD) 1992 - Metronome/Restless (USA), 7 72653-2 (CD) 1992 - MauMau Records (UK), MAUCD 623 (CD)Note: Only the Metronome/Restless and MauMau versions contain track 9.
Rick Anderson (courtesy of the All Music Guide by way of the Get Music website)
Artistically, jazzrock fusion has been dead for at least the last five years, the original Miles Davis-Mahavishnu Orchestra vision of blazing jazz soul, solo derring-do and electric rock urgency having been undone by commercial nearsightedness. Now Material, a chameleonic New York ensemble headed by bassist Bill Laswell and synthesizer player Michael Beinhorn, has brought fusion back to life with a startling, wholly uncompromising debut album.
Memory Serves knows no limits because Material recognizes no rules. They acknowledge their influences – like the murky Bitches Brew bop of "Disappearing" and the Captain Beefheart-sounding Delta moan of Laswell's six-string bottleneck bass in "Upriver"–and they brazenly flaunt a knack for cooking up hot, sexy disco rhythms. But at the same time, Material molds and subverts these ingredients to strange purposes, bringing together modern jazz, progressive rock, dance-floor R&B and new music for a sound that is more fission than fusion.
If you have been waiting since Mahavishnu's The Inner Mounting Flame for a fusion record to give you that same thrill of discovery, then Memory Serves will serve you well. (RS 371)
4 out of 5 stars
David Fricke (courtesy of the Rolling Stone website)