1/  Take a Chance                              (Laswell,Beinhorn)            4.31
  2/  I'm the One                                (Laswell,Beinhorn,Fowler)     5.25
  3/  Time Out                                   (Laswell,Le,Beinhorn)         4.52
  4/  Let Me Have It All                         (S. Stewart)                  5.23
  5/  Come Down                                  (Laswell,Beinhorn,Fowler)     4.43
  6/  Holding On                                 (Laswell,Beinhorn,Eno)        4.40
  7/  Memories                                   (H. Houston)                  3.58
  8/  Don't Lose Control                         (Laswell,Beinhorn)            4.18
  9/  Busting Out                                (Laswell,Beinhorn,Maher)      8.03

          Recorded at O.A.O Studio, Brooklyn, New York and RPM Sound Studio, NYC
          Engineered by Martin Bisi
          Assistant engineers at RPM: Robin Danar, Dominick Maita and Mike Krowiak
          Engineer on track 7: Robert Musso
          Produced by Material
          Mastered at Masterdisk NYC by Howie Weinberg
          Business Administration: Martin Thau
          A & R Coordination: Robert Soares
Nona Hendryx: lead vocals (1,9), background vocals (1,4); B.J. Nelson: background vocals (1,4,6), lead vocals (6); Nicky Skopelitis: guitar (1,6), voice (8); J.T. Lewis: drums (1,3,6); Michael Beinhorn: synthesizers; Bill Laswell: basses; R. Bernard Fowler: lead and background vocals (2,5); Nile Rogers: guitar (2,5); Raymond Jones: Yamaha CP-70B Electronic Piano (2,7); Daniel Ponce: bongos (2,8); Tony Thompson: drums (2,5,8); Fred Frith: guitar (3); Nicky Marrero: percussion (3,6); Noris Night: lead vocals (4); Ronnie Drayton: guitar (4,6,9); Yogi Horton: drums (4,7); Oliver Lake: tenor and alto saxophone (5); Whitney Houston: lead vocals (7); Archie Shepp: tenor saxophone (7); Thi-Linh Le: voice (8); Jean Karakos: voice (8); Fred Maher: drums (9).

          1982 - Elektra (Canada), 60206-1 (Vinyl)
          1982 - Celluloid (France), CEL 6633 (Vinyl)
          1982 - Celluloid (USA), 205 136-320 (Vinyl)
          1982 - Elektra/Asylum (USA), 60206-1 (Vinyl)
          1982 - Celluloid (France), CEL 541 003 (Vinyl)
          1992 - Restless Records (USA), 7 72654-2 (CD)
          19?? - Celluloid (USA), CEL N.Y. 5504 (CD)
Note: Only the CD versions contain track 9.


One Down marked a distinct shift in sound for Material, the avant-garde downtown pickup group organized around bassist Bill Laswell and keyboardist Michael Beinhorn. The edgy experimentalism that characterized earlier efforts like Temporary Music and Memory Serves is downplayed here in favor of funk and disco tunes delivered with a minimum of weirdness. Sure, it sounds dated but that doesn't make it less attractive. Laswell is a master of funk bass, and with guests like drummer Yogi Horton, guitarist Nile Rodgers and singers Nona Hendryx and Whitney Houston (just before she became a superstar on her own), he didn't really have much chance to go wrong. Highlights include"Take a Chance" and the strutting "I'm the One"; if you want something a little more challenging, check out Archie Shepp's squalling sax solo on the Houston vehicle "Memories." This is straight-ahead turn-of-the-80s funk at its old-fashioned best from the folks you'd have least suspected of harboring such sympathies.

Rick Anderson (courtesy of the All Music Guide by way of the Get Music website)


Crawling out of the sludge of NYC's post-punk no wave scene, Material starts to show a lot more sophistication on this, their first full length album after three slightly primitive EPs. Band leader Bill Laswell seems more than eager to start leaving behind his less ambitious band mates as he starts to bring on guests from the 'real' jazz world. Some of the top names from New York's early 80s avant-jazz scene are here including Henry Threadgill, Fred Frith, Sonny Sharrock and Billy Bang. Likewise Laswell doesn't waste any time utilizing his new part-time band mates to take his music into territories he couldn't explore with Material's original three piece lineup. In particular Bill reveals for the first time his deep attachment to the mid-70s music of Miles Davis. For a long time the public had acted as if Miles had dropped off the planet after recording Bitches Brew. Much credit is due to Laswell and other 80s punk/jazzers for recognizing the value of Miles' excursions into avant- psychedelic rock and incorporating his innovations into their music. In particular, the song Dissapearing sounds like an outright Miles tribute with the first part of the song coming from Agharta, and the second half from On the Corner.

Elsewhere throughout this album Material seems to have a lot of fun ripping through a variety of styles in a way that hadn't been heard in the world of jazz fusion in a long while. In the early 80's mainstream fusion had become terribly mundane and safe and was not much more than background music for yuppie diners. NYC bands such as Material and others with avant-garde and post-punk backgrounds were bringing a new life and spunk, as well as an irreverent sense of humor to jazz fusion. A couple songs on here are almost a mix of avant-funk and goofy hillbilly music, something that would have been unheard of in the overly sophisticated world of mainstream fusion post late-70s.

There is some 'material' on here that is less than inspiring. Laswell and his gang still felt obligated to throw on one kind of punky funk number with vocals that are less than professional, as well as a number of noisy experimental cuts that drag on a little too long. In some of the more experimental numbers you can definitely hear Fred Frith's influence via his work with Laswell in Massacre.

This album was a huge breath of fresh air and a bold punky slap in the face of mundane overly slick jazz fusion in the early 80s. I don't know if all that translates these days, but it still has some fun songs, and fun isn't a word you hear associated with jazz fusion too often.

3 out of 5 stars

Easy Money (courtesy of the Prog Archives website)


Pop Will Eat Its Experiments...

....subtitled "Meet the Original Material Girls"

This is Laswell and Bienhorn's foray into funky-pop, and synthet dance moves. 'Course Material has been much more experimental in it's day...taking it's cue form the 80's East Coast avant-punk, intellectual electronica and performance art as culture era. Look up Laurie Anderson, Phillip Glass, Blondie and David Byrne w/ Talking Heads, Art of Noise, etc, etc, etc.....

This is as funky as it wantsa be with the rendition of Sly Stone's "Let Me Have It All" featuring vocals by funk-rocktress-goddess Nona Hendryx. Listen to Laswell on that bass-line. He and Stone shoulda done something together.

What makes this album historic is that this is probably the first vocal solo effort from pop-RandBee artiste Whitney Houston on the dance ditty "Memories". As such, however, don't kick down any doors trying to get this because she's featured on it. This is Laswell and Bienhorn's party and they can cry if they want to... jam if they want to.

And they do. From "Take a Chance" to "Holding On" co-written by the great Brian Eno. It worth a mention or two primarily because of the deluge of turntablists and ambient/electronica/trance/triphop/acid jazz folks who need more of an idea of how these 'new sounds' originated and evolved.

yygsgsdrassil (courtesy of the> website)