Second Spin: Jeff Lorber, Step By Step

Sep 30, 2008 at 2:18 pm

Artist: Jeff Lorber

Album: Step By Step

From: Vintage Vinyl’s 99 cent bin.

Year: 1984

Label: Artista Records

What it sounds like: A combination of the worst elements of disco, new wave, smooth jazz and ‘80s hip-hop.

Best Track: “Step By Step.” When this wasn’t a New Kids on the Block cover, my hopes and dreams for this album were shattered; it was all downhill after that. Most of the songs on the album sound like this guy went to the drum machine/synthesizer store, bought everything in stock then tried to use them all on the same song. I think I even heard even a cowbell drum machine on this one.

The lyrics are cheesy, boring and sung by a woman named Audrey Wheeler and are along the lines of, “Step by step, I won’t stop till I’m with you/step by step, I’m moving closer to you.”


Worst Track: “Groovacious.” This one is an instrumental that features another onslaught of synthesizers, drum machines and sound effects. It’s not so much that they all change time constantly, it’s that they never keep time at all. I think music like this is the reason white people got the reputation as being horrible dancers; at one point in the ’80s. everyone was trying to get their groove on to shit like this.

Oh, and for extra headache-inducing measure there’s a Kenny G-style tenor sax solo thrown in for the last minute and a half.

Who you can thank for the amazing cover art: Art Director: Donn Davenport, Photogrpher: Steve Prezant, Leather Pants by Tannery West.

Interesting Facts: Via Wikipedia: This guy started out in a group called the Jeff Lorber Fusion, that was, according to Wiki, “a pioneer in the smooth jazz genre,” so we already have one thing to hate him for. From his early songs, which are reportedly influenced by Herbie Hancock and Weather Report, “Rain Dance” from the 1979 album Water Sign is most notable for being sampled on Lil’ Kim’s “Crush On You.”

On the Jeff Lorber Fusion’s 1980 LP Wizard Island, Lorber introduced the world to a tenor sax player named Kenny Gorelick, better known as Kenny G. That’s two things we have to hate him for.

Lorber disbanded the fusion in 1982 to go solo. He released an album called It’s a Fact, which prominently featured Kenny G. Step By Step was completed in 1984 and somehow, despite its epic level of suck, reached number 31 on the R&B Charts.

He continued sucking for nine more albums over the next eighteen years. By sheer coincidence, his most recent record, titled Heard That, was released today on Peak Records. (I swear this was an accident.)

He hosts his own show on Sirius Satellite Radio and thanked Eddie Murphy on the liner notes to Step By Step.

-- Keegan Hamilton