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The Toys of Men

15 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 16, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

It has been somewhat of a frustrating run for fans of uber-bassist Stanley Clarke's legendary, genre-defining '70s work. After establishing himself as the world's premier four-string jazz-rock maestro with his work in Return to Forever and solo albums such as School Days, Clarke altered his focus by churning out middling commercial funk pop and soundtracks. They diluted his status as a talented musician whose fleet-fingered style and elaborate picking technique influenced a generation of bass players. But he's back now, with an anti-war-propelled set that is an encouraging and convincing return to form. The opening 11-minute, six-part suite, featuring fiery fiddle from the intriguingly named Mads Tolling, sounds like prime-era Mahavishnu Orchestra, and also highlights Clarke's frantic yet precise staccato technique on his instrument. It alone is worth the price of this disc, but the remaining dozen tracks emphasize Clarke's intentions to prove he's never lost his touch. He shifts between acoustic and electric settings, inserting stark solo and duo interludes that spotlight his prodigious talent between longer work-outs with his tight group. "Bad Asses," where he is accompanied only by drums, sizzles with thumb-numbing, lightning-hot funk and "Chateauvallon 1972 (Dedicated to Tony Williams)" finds Clarke in fusion territory again working a sizzling, dramatic slow riff as powerful and vital as anything he has done in decades. Long-time admirers now have an album that indisputably proves Stanley Clarke hasn't lost a step as the foremost bass player of his generation. --Hal Horowitz

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
  1. The Toys Of Men11:14Album Only
  2. Come On 2:59$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Jerusalem 6:12$0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. Back In The Woods 1:24$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. All Over Again 5:03$0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. Hmm Hmm 1:53$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. Bad Asses 5:04$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. Game 3:16$0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. La Cancion De Sofia 3:07$0.99  Buy MP3 
10. El Bajo Negro 7:43Album Only
11. Broski 1:55$0.99  Buy MP3 
12. Chateauvallon 1972 5:24$0.99  Buy MP3 
13. Bass Folk Song #6 2:52$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 16, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Heads Up
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,293 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Michael Stack VINE VOICE on October 17, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Bassist Stanley Clarke's solo career has been notoriously inconsistent-- with lucrative film scoring consuming much of his time and a tendency towards (not necessarily bad) smooth jazz sounds, his works can be frustrating and it can feel as though the jaw-dropping virtuoso performances he brings don't quite get matched. So with each new record, it's always a question-- r&b-laced smooth jazz or funk fusion? In the case of "The Toys of Men", it seems to be something entirely different, an unusual mix between fusion and acoustic jazz and one of the more satisfying albums in Clarke's catalog.

Performed by a core quintet featuring Clarke on any number of basses, Ruslan Sirota on keyboards, Mads Tolling on violin, Jef Lee Johnson on guitar and Ronald Bruner, Jr. behind the drum kit, with guest spots by vocalist Esperanza Spalding, guitaristts Tomer Shtein and Michael Landau, keyboardist Phil Davis and percussionist Paulinho da Costa, the album finds an unusual mix of electric and acoustic. A good example is the opening extended title suite-- it opens sounding like it takes a page out of the Mahavishnu Orchestra book, chugging fusion driven by a superb, rolling bass line from Clarke and a frantic statemetn by Tolling. But once you get comfortable with it, it gives way to a gentle acoustic passage, featuring a building melody and wordless vocals by Spalding and closes with a gentle, hopeful, upper register electric bass solo over a gentle piano and drum accompaniment. In fact, while Clarke has shown more virtuoso performances over the years, I dare say this is his most sensitive, emotive and in many ways powerful playing.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By kons on October 24, 2007
Format: Audio CD
The virtuoso bassist Stanley Clarke examines the emotional sweep of war in the Middle East on this studio recording.
"The Toys of Men" also includes acoustic bass interludes that provide a stirring counterpoint to Clarke's more well known fiery electric bass attack.
Clarke has always been a phenomenal bass player but, in a high-level journeyman career since then, he has written a ton of TV and film scores (everything from "Pee-Wee's Playhouse" to "Boyz in the Hood") and clearly kept his bass chops alive and well.
Clarke found international fame with Chick Corea's "Return to Forever" before landing his own solo deal in the early 1970s.
One of the pioneers of the "slap" bass technique, Clarke's latest release is described as a "masterpiece" by Billboard magazine, themed with the stupidity and futility of war and including an 11-minute title track
As a composer and band leader, he is a restless animal on this disc, shifting from mood to mood, texture to texture. But Clarke the bass player is in constant evidence, as soulful, songful and rippingly virtuosic as ever.
This disc is a sudden, surprising and admirable reminder that Stanley Clarke, at 56, is still out there and able to get your attention.
Also it is a showcase of amazing musicianship, encompassing straight-up fusion and funk, to softer edges and longer thematic passages.
On this unusual and challenging offering, Stanley Clarke is joined by Paulinho Da Costa (percussion), Esperanza Spalding on vocals, Jef Lee Johnson (guitar), Michael Landau (guitar - acoustic and electric), drummer Ronald Brumer, Jr., guitarist Tomer Shtein, keyboardist Ruslan Sirota, and violinist Mads Tolling.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr Peabody on February 24, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This may very well be Stanley Clarke's finest album to date. Although the album displays a variety of styles each track is superb. Beginning with the title track which begins with a Fusion feel and eventually transitions into a more traditional Jazz sound. All Over Again is a vocal track written and sang by Esperanza Spalding that is so good it should be given air play. Clarke has a few solo tracks with just him and a Victor Bailey acoustic bass and these are the reasons I say he raises the bar. Two of them are a Blues laiden solo where you can feel the emotion and intensity conveyed by Clarke through his instrument. Another is a Flemingo influenced solo where Clarke explodes toward the end with a frenzy of slaps and chords that had me wondering if I just heard what I thought I did, it was incredible. Another incredible track is just him and the drummer doing an electrifying Funk aruption. Another track which is a more traditional Jazz offering but features Clarke's ability with a bow. The entire album is just a spectacular showcase of Stanley Clarke's virtuoso mastering of the bass guitar. And you can't forget to mention the talented musicians on this album who supports him in this outstanding piece of work. The Toys of Men should become Clarke's new definitive album unseating School Days from i'ts many decades on that throne.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Andre S. Grindle TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 4, 2007
Format: Audio CD
It is very common place in the past decade to have to wait a very long time for Stanley Clarke to put out new material. And the wait between this and his last album 1, 2, To the Bass pretty much fits the bill. 'The Toys Of Men' is one of those albums that sounds like it was made for the pleasure of every kind of Stanley Clarke fan-there are bombastic fusion excersises,some funky numbers and a good helping of electric and acoustic bass solos.My personal opinion is that too many of them ring somewhat hollow.For one,this recording features somewhat obscure musicians and they all tend to rely on creating a certain sound rather then writing clever compositions for them,so at best some of this sounds like Journey to Love or even his debut Children of Forever without the same level of compositional flare. I've only listened to this album twice and so far nothing has really leaped out at me as overly spellbinding or even memorable.But it all sounds very good so I suppose it did accomplish it's mission.
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