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Herbie Hancock: Lite Me Up

Album Notes

By 1978, Hancock had another identity as a dance/fusion attraction with the albums Feets Don't Fail Me Now and Sunlight. Lite Me Up is an even more concerted effort to fuse jazz with pop. Hancock handled all of the production chores on all but two of the eight tracks. His main arranger and lyricist here is Rod Temperton, the former Heatwave member who worked with Quincy Jones on albums Off the Wall and Light Up the Night. The title track and "The Bomb" are glossy, propulsive offerings reminiscent of prime Jones without his skill at making it all stick. The biggest hit here, the sleek "Getting' to the Good Part" adheres to the Steely Dan's Gaucho style, has a gorgeous bridge, and has Hancock doing his loved or hated vocoder lead vocals. From a jazz perspective, there is precious little of it on Lite Me Up. In fact, the songs "The Fun Tracks" and the humorous "Motor Mouth" sound like Heatwave retreads. The last song stands out, however. The beautiful, hooky ballad "Give It All Your Heart" features both Hancock and Patrice Rushen both doing their vocal leads on vocoder. The track perfectly captures both prime Temperton and Hancock's '78-'82 fusion ballad style. Songs with producers Jay Graydon and Narada Michael Walden both feature the artist doing vocals without the gadgetry, and, believe it or not, the vocoder is more definitive. Despite the better tracks, Lite Me Up doesn't have the adventurous nature of Hancock's jazz/pop of the era. ~ Jason Elias


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