Release Date: 1973

Track Listing
1)  Chameleon - 15:41
fast
2)  Watermelon Man - 6:28
fast
3)  Sly - 10:15
fast
4)  Vein Melter - 9:09
fast

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Member: ¿SheriffJohnBrown?
Date: 1/9/2005


Herbie Hancock had been looking for a voice since he left Warner records in 1971. Moving from his traditional Blue Note piano sessions into experimental electronic sounds (Sextant), Herbie ventures into funk territory here on Head Hunters.

"Chameleon" is one of Herbie’s most famous songs. But not without good reason. This song fuses a funk bass line with jazz saxes and electronic keyboards. It moves as one rhythm, driven wholly by the grooving synth-bass line. It is a very accessible song, and the famous melodies are easy to hum and fun to play along to. But truth be told, the song is just a bit too long. It goes on and on and on for 15 minutes on the same bass line. It would probably be Herbie’s best song if he had edited it down to between 8 and 9 minutes.

"Watermelon Man" will sound very weird at first. ‘Fun With Samplers’ would have been a much more fitting title. A slightly-irritating whistle round begins the song but mercifully gives way to a funk-bass rhythm about a minute through. I don’t know what Herbie was thinking putting those annoying whistles in here, but because there is an awesome (but modest) jazz-fusion melody in the core of the song, I forgive him. Between Herbie’s layered keys (electric piano, arp, various synthesizers, and some other neat sounds) and Bennie Maupin’s sax, it’s hard to tell which is the lead instrument.

"Sly" is easily the best track of Head Hunters. The reeds of Mr. Bennie Maupin definitely steal the show here. He tackles a number of instruments, including bass clarinet, flute, alto flute, soprano sax, tenor sax, and the saxello. Herbie cooks up some awesome keyboard solos. Harvey Mason pulls the weight of the music with his technical but clean drumming, but of course not without bassist Paul Jackson's help. This is definitely progressive fusion, as the music changes through a few different themes and intensities. "Vein Melter" is slow in a ballad-y way. It has a dense funk-fusion groove, and a marching bass line, accompanied by snare rolls.

The weakness of the album is the repetitive qualities of the music, which at times (on "Chameleon", especially, IMO) can be very boring…

8.5/10
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