Released in 1980, Herbie Hancock's thirtieth record, 'Mr. Hands.' will caress you. 'Mr. Hands' is proof that music has the power to smother you with awesome waves of serenity. Featuring the original line up of The Headhunters on the album's opener 'Spiraling Prism' and Jaco Pastorius on the astonishing '4:00am', Herbie Hancock illustrates that he still has the ability to mix it up, so to speak. Containing the ingredients of Latin, Electronic, R&B and Calypso, Herbie cooks up a feast of tranquility that is delightful on the ears. While being much different to the faster paced fusion records such as 'Headhunters', 'Thrust' and the more funk orientated 'Man-Child', 'Mr Hands' reminds us that Herbie still has the odd gem in his locker without sticking to a certain formula.
This is by far one of the most impressive records I have heard when it comes to being lulled into relaxation, the bass flutters along gently, sliding smoothly then stopping and the keys are delicately tickled with great results. The funk is also here in places as well, 'Spiraling Prism' breaks into a lush section after a beautifully crafted intro and really gets you moving your feet.
The albums master piece is definitely '4:00am', Jaco is in his element on this track, busting out some immense licks which are full of raw emotion, think Victor Wooton style jamming, and the rest of the music is really unique. What gets me is the slow build-up at the beginning, whic last about 12 seconds, or so, it outlines the sheer talent of all the musicians involved. As for the rest of the album, it ticks over nicely, it's nothing tremendous, but it's good enough. The calypso jamming on the aptly titled 'Calypso' is interesting to say the least, again featuring phenomenal bass work (this is a must have album for anyone interested in the instrument) and well built melodies. The all synthesizer track 'Textures' is also a strong listen, but I can't help but feeling that it's on here just to showcase Hancock's talents, but then again, if you've got it, flaunt it.
The one problem, which really keeps this album from being anything other than great, is that it hasn't aged well. Being the first Herbie Hancock record to feature a computer, you can tell that certain sounds are dated and some of the sound effects definitely sound 80s, like they belong in Back to the Future, or something. The use of the synthesizer can also grow to be cheesy, which is unfortunate, because the compositions really are something to be desired.
So grab your smoking jacket, pipe and your slippers, sit back and just chill.