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Articles Home » 1983 Articles » Ritenour, Lee - 1983 On The Line
Ritenour, Lee - 1983 On The Line

ARTIST: Ritenour, Lee
ALBUM: On The Line
LABEL: Elektra
SERIAL: 60310-1
YEAR: 1983


LINEUP: Lee Ritenour - guitar * Dave Grusin, Don Grusin, Greg Mathieson - keyboards * Harvey Mason - drums * Ernie Watts - sax * Anthony Jackson - bass * Nathan East - bass, bass synth * Lenny Castro, Steve Forman - percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 The Rit Variations * 02 Starbright * 03 On The Line * 04 Tush * 05 California Roll * 06 Heavenly Bodies * 07 Pedestrian * 08 Dolphin Dream


During the early 80's I was a massive fan of jazz fusion guitarist Lee Ritenour. I still am, but there was a little time-lapse with Lee where he (or I) dropped off the map. Case in point, this 1983 album, which was a continuation of his work with Elektra Records, though I don't recall ever seeing it in the LP bins of my then regular record shop. His next one 'Banded Together' I recall buying more or less the day it came out, os it was years later that I corrected thi missing album into my collection. After the rather stunning West Coast/pop affair that was 'Rit/2', 'On The Line' moves back into the jazz fusion sub-genre, an album of instrumentals featuring again the creme of the L.A session musician scene.

The Songs
Some of these songs have appeared in other guises over the years. 'The Rit Variations' is a familiar piece, if you are a long-time fan of Ritenour; this one also appears on his next 1984 album as 'Rit Variations 2'. Ritenour specialises in very melodic, lilting songs that drift on the ether, such as the lovely 'Starbright' and 'Tush' (no not the ZZ Top standard). He can also turn a tune into a bright funky workout as with the title track 'On The Line' and the boppy 'Pedestrian' which sounds like something the Pointer Sisters could've used during 1983. 'California Roll' is a song which could easily have done well if vocals were applied, while 'Heavenly Bodies' appears on the following album 'Banded Together' in a slightly different form. The album finishes on the very ethereal sounding 'Dolphin Dreams'.

In Summary
Ritenour did this dual album approach (one with vocals, one as an instrumental) back in 1981 with the release of the hugely popular 'Rit' album, and the flamenco flavoured 'Rio' album. It was a shame that Lee did not pursue his West Coast/pop directon after the 'Banded Together' album, as he cemented himself deeper into the jazz fusion field. As a recommendation, I go for 'Rit', 'Rit/2' and 'Banded Together' as his more pop/rock efforts. Apart from that, there are many albums in which to explore his discography.

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#1 | gerard on August 26 2015 21:21:53
Great artist! Don't know this album but have several others. Rather enjoyed the 'Rit' album. As far as westcoast pop is concerned, it probably doesn't come any smoother than 'Is it you' off that album...Nice version of that one on Youtube with Phil Perry on vocals...
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