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Sound System [Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered]

Herbie HancockAudio CD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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MP3 Music, 7 Songs, 2000 $5.99  
Audio CD, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, 2000 --  
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Herbie Hancock is a true icon of modern music. Throughout his explorations, he has transcended limitations and genres while maintaining his unmistakable voice. With an illustrious career spanning five decades and 12 Grammy® Awards including the 2007 Album Of The Year for ‘River: The Joni Letters’, he continues to amaze audiences.

There are few artists in the music ... Read more in Amazon's Herbie Hancock Store

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Frequently Bought Together

Sound System + Perfect Machine + Mr Hands
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 8, 2000)
  • Original Release Date: 1984
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B00004HYLC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,149 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Hardrock
2. Metal Beat
3. Karabali
4. Junku
5. People Are Changing
6. Sound System
7. Metal Beat (Extended Version)

Editorial Reviews

When Herbie Hancock's Sound System was released in 1984, critics slammed it as a commercially driven, derivative follow-up to Future Shock and its hit single "Rockit." Hancock's jazz audience, on the other hand, just slammed it, period. Remastered with one bonus remix and an unrevealing interview with producer Bill Laswell, this reissue offers the chance to listen to Sound System outside of its original 1980s context and reveals it as a more interesting release than was given credit at the time. Critics certainly had a point when they called Sound System a rip-off of its predecessor. The opening "Hardrock" in particular sounds like a conscious attempt at duplicating "Rockit," from its electronic drum programming to its synthesizer melody and turntable scratching. But elsewhere on the album, Hancock and Laswell's crew of conspirators (which include many of the same musicians involved in the latter's experimental Material albums from the same period) get into areas that are more far-reaching than anything on Future Shock. The most welcome addition is West African harpist Foday Musa Suso, whose beautiful kora and balophone textures inject "Metal Beat," "Junku," and the title track with world-fusion flavors. There's also Wayne Shorter, whose lyricon (a cousin of the soprano saxophone) graces "Metal Beat" and "Karabali," and percussionist Ayb Dieng, whose talking drum serves to enhance Laswell's industrial-tinged production. --Ezra Gale

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brand New Sounds Inspired by the Street March 15, 2006
Format:Audio CD
Here's one to put the proof in the pudding. Those aware of this album are divided into two camps: those who think it's a rip-off of Future Shock and those who realize FS can't hold a candle to this rock-solid effort. On Future Shock, Hancock couldn't decide if he wanted to commit all the way, resulting in some tepid material. On Sound-System, caution is thrown to the wind, no holds are barred and Herbie goes for broke. (My sentence is full of clichés. The album is not.). Listen to the title track, which is pretty much a bunch of noise pounded into a melody - shards of sound that pierce the doldrums. This is an up-to-the-minute, high-tech sound for its day. Then you've got "Karabali" and "Junku," which mash-up indigenous music and the sounds of the street with reckless abandon - like putting Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five in a blender with a group of griots. Sure, "Hardrock" is a photocopy of the great, seminal "Rockit," but that sound was so new, it was worth hearing again. "People Are Changing" shifts gears yet again, a towering soul number with vocals that address the struggle for racial equality. A jazz musician in his forties was making some of the freshest, most vital "pop" music of the day, pushing boundaries and toying with the very idea of genres. Far from being scattered, "Sound-System" is darn near cathartic in its energy and willingness to try new things. Herbie wasn't just thumbing his nose at jazz purists - he plainly didn't give a ----. What "Future Shock" hinted at, "Sound-System" hit out of the park.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An underappreciated album from Herbie August 7, 2007
Format:Audio CD
Sound System had the misfortune of following the megahit Future Shock (Rockit). Consequently I think that it has taken some undeserved hits from fans and critics.
I give Herbie and Bill Laswell credit for throwing some new elements into the mix on this album. OK, Hardrock was supposed to be the next hit, but it is harder-edged and industrial than Rockit. I also really enjoy it. There are some more organic sounds in the mix from Wayne Shorter and Foday Musa Suso - love that kora playing on Junku!
This album is a bit uneven in places. Metal Beat is a bit spotty and People Are Changing doesn't quite work for me, although Herbie's piano stands out nonetheless. However Junku is darn near perfect, Hardrock really does rock and Karabali has a good world music mix with piano, sax and African percussion.
Sound System mixed elements of industrial and world music before those terms became household expressions. Also the African-style chanting on Karabali predates Paul Simon's Graceland. This isn't a classic in my book, but it holds up well. I picked it up as soon as it was reissued and still enjoy it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More-is-less FUTURE SHOCK sequel! July 8, 2000
By J. Lund
Format:Audio CD
The second of three collaborations with producer/bassist BillLaswell, SOUND SYSTEM at times finds new twists balancingstate-of-the-art studio production techniques with street-wise melodies and rhythms that began with 1983's FUTURE SHOCK. On several tracks such world-beat incorporations as the kora (an African stringed instrument) diversify the overall sound, which at other times seem entirely made up of "artificial" synthesized and sampled sounds (particularly on METAL BEAT). The opening track HARD ROCK is a blatant recycling of the FUTURE SHOCK hit ROCKIT, with some metallic guitar added into the mix in spots. Here and throughout most of the album, Hancock plays primarily background synth figures...he has an ear for textures and catchy riffs, but his improvisational talents are almost nowhere to be found. JUNKU is a more interesting successor to ROCKIT. However, one wonders if much of the music presented here has any significant value beyond being a demonstration disc for Laswell's craftsmanship in the studio. SOUND SYSTEM's highlights are the two tracks that stray furthest from the ROCKIT formula. KARABALI evokes memories of early-period Earth Wind & Fire. Note how multi-dimensional the Hancock/Laswell approach becomes when the "jazz" talents of Herbie and guest Wayne Shorter are given the freedom to create! Then there is the Curtis Mayfield-like PEOPLE ARE CHANGING, highlighted by Bernard Fowler's soulful vocals. On both tracks there is more to admire than the technology itself. Recommendation: purchase FUTURE SHOCK first. Then buy SOUND SYSTEM if you want a like-minded sequel with several effective twists, but also some more-is-less retreads.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Human Traits Of The Robot January 27, 2007
Format:Audio CD
Sound-System may not have a monster cut like Rockit, but it demonstrated that the second collaboration between Herbie Hancock and Bill Laswell still had the creative fire to produce unique musical pieces.

Hancock was awarded a second consective Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance for this 1984 Rockit band release.

Hardrock and Metal Beat continues Hancock's search in stretching the fusion dynamic & either cut could have easily been included in a Miles Davis studio session during the 1980s.

But its the next three selections - Karabali, Junku and People are Changing - that shows Hancock at his creative peak with the band. Wayne Shorter guests on the lyricon for Karabali, Junku was written for the 1984 Winter Games of Sarajevo and People are Changing most definitely was inspired by the great Curtis Mayfield. The title track brings the CD to a wonderfully-textured conclusion.

With Sound-System, Hancock proved that gadgets alone don't make the music; there remains the human element to bring life to the sounds.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Taking The New Beat On A Trip Through The Dark Continent
With the success of Future Shock and its big hit "Rockit",Herbie had made one significant musical contribution to the 80's decade: he managed to put an instrumental dance record... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Andre S. Grindle
4.0 out of 5 stars More of the Same..Almost
Sound System was part two of the Rockit Band Trilogy as it has come to be know.(Future Shock, Sound System, And Perfect Machine) Hancock was primarily know for his Jazz Music... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Jeff Ball
5.0 out of 5 stars AFROCKIT!!!!
On "Metal Beat","Karabali" and "Junku" it would seem
that "Sound System" is taking on a much stronger feel of
world-beat African... Read more
Published on August 8, 2003 by Andre' S Grindle
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Follow Up To Future Shock
Since Future Shock Was So Good,I Thought No Other Hancock Album Could Even Come Close To It,But I Was Awfly Surprised when I Heard This. Read more
Published on July 17, 2001 by bob
2.0 out of 5 stars Bland Music
There's just no real reason to recommend this, or to listen to it. If you want to hear creative globally-tinged music check out Material's "Seven Souls". Read more
Published on October 23, 2000 by Scott McFarland
4.0 out of 5 stars A Decent Continuation
Herbie Hancock has this trend to try new things, then continue them for a few albums. This could only be the follow-up to "Future Shock", which it resembles in many... Read more
Published on April 11, 1999
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