He Said

Take Care

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Under the name He Said, Graham Lewis made a first credible foray into the realm of pop with Hail in 1986. The 1989 follow-up, Take Care, continues in the same direction and with more consistent, superior results. If in places Hail hinted that Lewis' work was worthy of broader popular acclaim as well as some commercial success, the more conventional songwriting that characterizes Take Care makes that point convincingly. The album's synths, programmed beats, and clean production make it clear that Take Care is very much a product of the 1980s, but its dance-friendly electro-pop is rarely anachronistic -- even on the vaguely funky disco throwback "Not a Soul," complete with Human League-style female backing vocals. Take Care's continued appeal is largely due to Lewis' knack for inscribing his better material with an understated catchiness. Whether it's on the mid-tempo numbers like the dark, atmospheric "Watch Take Care" or the more upbeat "A.B.C. Dicks Love," whose propulsive rhythms are provided by ex-Sugarhill Gang and Tackhead drummer Keith LeBlanc, much of the album still sounds remarkably fresh. However, Take Care's downbeat tracks are the most memorable and the most accomplished. With its minimal piano phrases, stirring vocals, and austere synth melodies, the languid "Could You?" exemplifies Lewis' talent for haunting, affecting songs. The album also showcases his previously undocumented skill as an interpreter of others' work with an unlikely cover of Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne." Although Lewis' experimental urges (hitherto satisfied on recordings with Bruce Gilbert) are largely suppressed here, rumblings of Dome can be heard on "Hole in the Sky." While this noisy, industrially flavored track looks forward to the sound of Lewis' next solo project, Immanent, for the most part, Take Care anticipates the synth-oriented pop direction Wire would take on Manscape the following year.

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