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The Best Of Material

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Album Review

Material has changed its sound so many different times that any number of compilations could serve as a best-of and still not paint a complete portrait. Varese's Best of Material is actually more like "Best of the Early Years," gathering tunes from the first EPs (Temporary Music 1 and Temporary Music 2), Memory Serves, and One Down, along with an otherwise unreleased 12." This period saw Material start out as a punk-informed art-funk band, then move toward a fairly straight R&B sound with One Down (which actually featured Whitney Houston's recording debut on a tune with Archie Shepp). The fact is that those two musical camps don't sit well with each other, and the tracks that feature Nona Hendryx and Whitney Houston don't really mesh with the ones that feature guitar god Robert Quine or deranged preachers. However, since most of the early Material material is out of print and the "For a Few Dollars More" 12" single was always hard to find, this compilation serves a better purpose than at first glance.


Formed: 1979 in New York, NY

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s

One of the most high-profile projects of the endlessly prolific bassist and producer Bill Laswell, Material pioneered a groundbreaking fusion of jazz, funk, and punk that also incorporated elements of hip-hop and world music well before either's entrance into the mass cultural consciousness. Formed in 1979, the first Material lineup consisted of Laswell, multi-instrumentalist Michael Beinhorn, and drummer Fred Maher, all three staples of the downtown New York City underground music scene. The group,...
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The Best Of Material, Material
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