Review Summary: A jazz essential.
People will say that �Kind of Blue� is jazz�s finest moment, but Headhunters by Herbie Hancock gives Miles Davis a run for his money. This is the album that busted it all wide open for an entire generation of jazzoids. Headhunters combines funk, jazz, rock, and a little bit of soul in some parts. Lead by keyboard virtuoso Herbie Hancock, this group takes funk to a new level. Even if you haven�t really listened to this album, odds are you�ve heard at least one part of one of his songs before. This was also one of the first jazz albums to go gold and is the largest selling jazz album in history. Now, onto the track reviews. There are only four, but they�re all pretty long.
The Herbie Hancock Group:
Herbie Hancock (Electric Piano, Clavinet, Synthesizer, Synthesizer Pipes)
Bennie Maupin (Soprano and Tenor Sax, Saxello, Bass Clarinet, Alto Flute)
Paul Jackson (Electric Bass, Marimbula)
Harvey Mason (Drums)
Bill Summers (Congas, Shekere, Balafon, Agogo, Cabasa, Hindewho, Tambourine, Log Drum, Surdo, Gankoqui, Beer Bottle)
Trust me on this one, you�ve heard this song before. Jazz bands around the world have covered this song. The unforgettable opening bass line will get in your head for hours, possibly even days. After this, the saxophone comes in with another memorable little melody. The drums are constantly laying down a good beat with Herbie making little keyboard fills in the background. This continues for a few minutes until we reach the keyboard solos, which everyone should learn to love. Herbie really just shows off his skill with lots of quick runs and trippy effects. I never get tired of listening to them, they�re perfect. The solo continues for several minutes and then the song reaches a new movement. Paul Jackson lays down another great bass line that you can�t help but bob your head to. Herbie comes in with more random effects until about 8:30 where the song reaches a new level of greatness. This part is one of jazz�s finest moments, if you were to ask me. Every part in this section is astounding, from the keys to bass to the drums. After three minutes of this we return to the opening saxophone part for a little bit, but then back to the relaxing jazz. With about 2:30 left, the bass comes in again with the opening riff, and the saxophone and keyboards have solos until the song fades out. This song is by far the best jazz song I�ve ever heard, and one of the best songs ever made.
Watermelon Man (6:31)
This isn�t the original version, it�s a new version that was imagined by drummer Harvey Mason. The alto flute plays a simple little melody until the bass comes back in with another head bobbing line with Mason laying down a nice beat in the back. Herbie then joins in, making his keyboard sound a little bit like a guitar. At 1:45 we reach a new part that is extremely relaxing with little saxophone parts and more great bass. They keys are what really drive this song, and Bennie Maupin adds a great sax solo to compliment the rest of the band. This song continues with the same idea until the first flute part comes back in, and then the song fades out. Another great track, definitely worth a listen.
This song starts out with saxophone and low end bass with snare drum fills to bring it all together. The beginning of this song is dominated by Maupin�s masterful sax playing with the rest of the band just backing him up with a nice funky groove. After this part ends, Herbie comes in with more keyboard mastery for a short amount of time, and then there is a quick time change. There is a new low end bass line in E with fast drums, sax, and keys all soloing at the same time. It�s amazing how the band can pull off all of this at the same time. Musically, it�s incredible, probably the most complex thing the band plays on the album. After several minutes of this we reach a new part with a continuous fast tempo. The drum beat in the song is a great jazz beat, with Herbie tinkering around. The bass is barely audible during this part, but it fits the song well. Herbie lays down a great keyboard solo until the band ends with the opening groove. Another classic track.
Vein Melter (9:09)
Sadly, we�ve reached the last track on this jazz/funk masterpiece. The opening few minutes are very soft and laid back. The tempo is very slow, with more grooving bass and saxophone fills. The drums aren�t anything crazy, but the light cymbal hits and snare rolls do the song justice. If you enjoy softer jazz, then definetly give this song a listen. Herbie lays down some nice synthesizer and keyboard work over the rest of the band. It�s hard to ramble on about the entire song more, because this is pretty much all that it is. It�s just beautiful soft relaxing music that shows off the band�s talent. It�s a great closer to an even greater album.
If you don�t have this album already in your collection, go get it as soon as you can. I don�t see why anyone wouldn�t like it. Fans of any genre could enjoy this because it combines so many different styles of music. Any keyboard player should worship Herbie Hancock for what he�s done for jazz and music altogether. Please, do yourself a favor and buy this as soon as you can, you won�t be disappointed. I promise. I don�t give out a perfect score often, but this album deserves it a hundred times over.
Album status: Classic