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“With rocketing sales of Future Shock, and the constant airplay of its smash hit, “Rockit,” Hancock and Bill Laswell soon joined forces again to record the follow-up LP, Sound-System.

The recording line-up was considerably enlarged to include guitarists Henry Kaiser and Nicky Skopelitis, Anton Fier on Simmons electronic drums, Will Alexander on the Fairlight CMI synthesizer, the Senegalese percussionist Aiyb Dieng, and the Gambian kora player Foday Musa Suso.

Released in August 1984, Sound-System is both a continuation of and a departure from Future Shock. While the theme on “Hardrock” is redolent of “Rockit,” the heavy use of African percussion also puts it close to Sextant in creating a happy marriage of indigenous African percussion and modern technology (polyphonic synthesizers, electronic drum programming, and turntable scratching).

On “Junku” and the title track, the slamming street-beats are interjected with the beautiful kora playing of Foday Musa Suso. “Karabali” is essentially a duet between Hancock on acoustic piano and Wayne Shorter on soprano sax, and underpinned by the percussion of Daniel Ponce. This is world music meeting the streets of the South Bronx, masterfully conceptualized and produced by Hancock and Laswell.” – 2013 Sony Box Set Liner Notes

“When Herbie Hancock was approached by the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee to compose a piece of music for the Field Events at the 1984 Olympic Games, he says he knew right away what it should sound like. “I wanted something heroic, courageous, and challenging. Something that would illustrate the “Roots of Man,” and be very American at the same time. About the same time, my producer introduced me to Foday Musa Suso, who comes from West Africa and plays an instrument called the kora.” They formed an instant attachment; an artistic match that created the song “Junku”, included on Hancock’s recent Sound-System LP”. – Roger Steffens, KCRW-FM, Santa Monica, CA

The song “Sound System” earned Herbie a Grammy Award in 1984 for ‘Best R&B Instrumental Performance’.

Produced by Bill Laswell/Material and Herbie Hancock.

Recorded 1984 by Rob Stevens at Evergreen Studio, N.Y.C.

Additional recording by Rob Stevens, Billy Youdelman, and Lawrence A. Duhart at Garage Sale Studios, L.A.; Studio Media, Evanston, IL; and Eldorado Recording Studios, L.A.

Mixed by Dave Jerden at Eldorado Recording Studios, L.A.

Originally released August 1984 as Columbia LP FC-39478 and Columbia CD CK 39478, except track 7, originally released 1984 as Columbia 12” single 44 04637

Billboard chart info: Pop 71, 14 wks; R&B 34, 13 wks; Jazz 7

Instrument Glossary:

E-MU 4060 Digital Keyboard – Released in 1976, this polyphonic keyboard controller included the ability to sample sounds and also featured a built-in sequencer. It could serve as a controller because of its ability to act as a trigger for other synthesizers if connected to them. Herbie used this instrument on his 1984 album Sound-System.

Yamaha DX-7 – First made in 1983, this was the first commercially successful polyphonic digital synthesizer and was known for having greater clarity and quality of sound than the analog versions that came before it. This instrument was first used by Herbie on Sound-System.

  • 1. Hardrock 6:10
  • 2. Metal Beat 4:56
  • 3. Karabali 5:18
  • 4. Junku 5:32
  • 5. People Are Changing 6:05
  • 6. Sound-System 5:33
  • Herbie Hancock (Composer, Producer)
  • Herbie Hancock (Fairlight CMI, Rhodes Chroma)
  • Herbie Hancock (Apple IIe Microcomputer)
  • Herbie Hancock (Yamaha DX-7)
  • Herbie Hancock (E-MU 4060 Digital Keyboard)
  • Will Alexander (Fairlight CMI)
  • Rob Stevens (XMD)
  • Nicky Skopelitis (Guitar)
  • Henry Kaiser (Guitar)
  • Bill Laswell (Producer)
  • Bill Laswell (Bass, DMX, Tapes)
  • Grand Master D.ST (Turntables)
  • Daniel Ponce (Bata, Bells, Shekere)
  • Wayne Shorter (Lyricon, Saxophone)
  • Foday Musa Suso (Dusunguni, Balaphone)
  • Foday Musa Suso (Kora, Kalimba)
  • Foday Musa Suso (Dusunguni)
  • Aiyb Dieng (Talking Drum, Chatan)
  • Aiyb Dieng (Chatan, Bells)
  • Aiyb Dieng (Don Don, Cowbell)
  • Bernard Fowler (Vocals, Vocal Arrangements)
  • Hamid Drake (Cymbals)
  • Rob Stevens (Praxis Processing, XMD)
  • Toshinori Kondo (Trumpet, Speaker)
  • Rob Stevens (Recording Engineer)
  • Billy Youdelman (Additional Recording)
  • Lawrence A. Duhart (Additional Recording)
  • Dave Jerden (Mixing)