44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Although I enjoyed the Headhunters album (1973), this 1974 release is a bit more appealing - and it has nothing to do with the sci-fi cover art. In general, the playing on this album seems further out there and a bit more sophisticated, even though the only thing that changed was the addition of jaw-dropping virtuoso drummer Mike Clark (shows you just how important the drummer is I guess).
The musicians on this album include the keyboard wizard himself Herbie Hancock playing "traditional" jazz-rock instruments (Fender Rhodes electric piano and Hohner D-6 clavinet) along with just about every synthesizer ARP manufactured in 1974 (ARP Odyssey, ARP Pro Soloist, ARP 2600, and ARP String Ensemble); Bernie Maupin (soprano and tenor saxophone, saxello, bass clarinet, and flute); Paul Jackson (electric bass guitar); Paul Summers (percussion); and drummer extraordinaire Mike Clark (who went on to jam with English jazz rock group Brand X).
Stylistically, this album fuses elements of traditional (straight) jazz with both jazz-rock and funk. With respect to the funk styles, the funk is not the more pop-oriented style of Sly and the Family Stone. This funk is deeply sophisticated and utilizes just about every odd time signature under the sun, which is largely an artifact of Mike Clarks' nimble and intricate technique (Actual Proof is a great example). Furthermore, his emphasis on subtle hesitations within a given bar lends the music an almost "choppy" and "off-kilter" feel. In fact, based upon Mike's comments in the liner notes (that he wrote), he seemed unwilling to play anything straight - I for one am glad, because I do not care for straight funk that much. Come to think of it, I am a progressive rock fan for crying out loud. I should note that bassist Paul is also excellent and does not "swing" either - then again, he has to follow Mike and they are both locked in tight on this album.
With respect to the heavy use of synthesizers on this album, I personally like the sounds that Herbie gets. Although synthesizers may turn some jazz fans off, I am a bit more accepting because my musical tastes include both 1970's electronica and European progressive rock.
All in all, this is a superb album of jazz-rock/funk from one of the genre's greatest musicians. Recommended along with Headhunters (1973) and albums by other influential Miles Davis alumni including John McLaughlin/Billy Cobham (Mahavishnu Orchestra - Birds of Fire, 1973); Joe Zawinul/Wayne Shorter (Weather Report - Black Market, 1976); and Chick Corea (Return to Forever - Romantic Warrior, 1976).
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2001
I personally prefer this Herbie Hancock record over it's predecessor, Head Hunters (and his later funk efforts) - it generally sounds better realised than loosely jamming tunes such as 'Chameleon' and 'Sly', more mature than 'Watermelon Man'. Don't get me wrong, Headhunters has it's moments of greatness, but this record is more consistent. Headhunters was necessary, but really a way for Herbie to find his feet in 'jazz-funk'.
Track 2, "Actual Proof" is THE definition of 'Jazz-Funk' - post-bop chords and melody (not to mention an excellent, lengthy Rhodes piano exploration by the man himslef) fused over fat funk. It's a shame Herb hasn't recorded more tunes similar in approach to this one. "Spank-A-Lee" opens with the most amazing groove with Herb on seriously funky clavinet (and later Rhodes) before Bennie Maupin rips on tenor. "Butterfly" is the set's token change of pace (as was the moody "Vein-Melter" from 'Headhunters'), and again shows Maupin's skills on the reeds, this time with Soprano sax. "Palm Grease" is similar to "Spank-A-Lee" in that it maintains serious funk throughout.
Herbie is wihtout doubt an excellent keyboard player, and on this album he really gets the chance to show this with a more varied set than 'Headhunters', which lacks the direction and cohesion of this set, I feel. Mike Clarke on drums also makes a big difference, giving an extra edge to the group sound. I think it's a shame that Headhunters gets most of the attention!
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2004
Herbie has complete control over this musical experience, with wonderful backing from a tight band.
I purchased this album after picking up "Flood," the live album Hancock recorded with 3 of the songs from Thrust on it, as well as Chameleon and some other classics. What amazes me the most is how close to the studio sound the live version was; the live playing on Flood is just as polished as the studio-produced Thrust, underlining and highlighting the band's skills.
The music on Thrust is some of Herbie's finest. It's very universal, too, as casual listeners can simply hear some very fast, funky beats, while a musician such as myself can listen with their jaw agape, trying to understand these songs were conceived and composed.
My favorite track from Flood, Butterfly, is done a little differently on this album, though not much. It's a nice respite from the unrelenting beats on the other three tracks. The interplay between the few instruments is always interesting to me; a storybook created with notes.
I highly recommend this album, and then the live recording, Flood, of Herbie's band playing these and more. They're two albums that can be universally liked by anyone who wants to hear what's next, even though it was recorded over 20 years ago.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 1999
Do you know I actually hated this album when I first heard it because the bass player in our band at the time use to play it over and over again in the flat we shared. For months he persisted in playing it through some meagre excuse of a tape player he had and I still hated it. The reason being was that I grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, who were god to me at the time, and Herbie Hancock didn't stand a chance. Then one morning out of the blue on went the tape and bang,it hit me. I couldn't believe what the drummer and the bass player were doing not to mention the whole band. Do you know I ended up ruining that tape myself not to mention the tape player and I've had to suffer waiting all these years before I finally see that at last it's out on CD.I've brought every CD of music that Herbie released at that time, asked every record store owner I've ever visited in Australia and New Zealand if they'd ever heard of it but to no avail. I am so glad they have finally seen the light because this album changed my whole way of thinking and opened up to me the world of jazz-fusion at it's best. It definitely deserves five stars.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2000
Thrust is one of those delightful gems in jazz fusion that seemed to get lost in the shuffle of all the other great fusion music that was coming out in the early/mid 1970's. This is a GREAT album! I like every song on this record. On Headhunters I really enjoyed three of the four songs, but on Thrust, Herbie presents a complete package that flows quite evenly. Clark does a fine job on the drums, Maupin's saxophone is amazing (check out his use of the wah wah pedal on Spank-A-Lee... or was that what a Saxello is???), and Bill Summers on percussion completes the gourmet meal with just the right type of "seasoning". Buttefly is one of the most beautiful instrumental songs ever written and is my favorite song on this album. I even named my daughter Vanessa (means, "Butterfly") after this song. On the "Flood" live album recorded in Japan (very rare and hard to find, but I DO have a copy of it), Herbie tells the audience, "He calls this song Butterfly because when you touch it, a little bit of it rubs off on you." Butterfly has left a permanent and indelible impression on me since the very first time I heard it on this album. Since I was just getting interested in electronic music and synthesizers at that time, I was "wowed" at the listing of keyboards Herbie used on this album. While Chick Corea was helping Moog put the Minimoog in the spotlight, Herbie showcased at least FOUR Arp Synthesizers on the Thrust album: Pro-Soloist, Odyssey, 2600, and String Ensemble. He may have also been using the Arp Explorer I (very brand new as Thrust was being released) and the Oberhiem systems that were also very brand new at that time. With the Fender-Rhodes electric piano and the Hohner D6 clavinet (with Fuzz Wah pedal, Echoplex and other wierd sound modifying gadgets), Herbie blew us all away in this wildly enjoyable journey.
The Headhunters album is a "must" for any record collection. BUT don't forget Thrust either. Sometimes the second effort is better than the first. In this case, Herbie was just getting better and more comfortable with his use of synthesizers.
Buy this CD now!!! Don't wait any longer. You won't be disappointed.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 1998
As one might imagine after a glimpse at the cosmic cover art, Herbie Hancock's second effort with The Headhunters is a bountiful journey into the galaxy of funk, polyrhythm, and electric melody. It is a wonder that this album was not nearly as well received as "Headhunters." Perhaps the replacement of drummer Harvey Mason was a factor, but Mike Clark boldy and successfully fills his shoes as his slippery linear grooves effortlessly propel the rhythm. Regardless of its notoriety, each track found on this album is wonderfully unique. The sparce opening pulse of "Palm Grease" offers a hint of "Chameleon," but Herbie quickly fills our ears with a chunky Clavinet theme that is fresh and strangely wicked, yet cannot be denied. The song proves to be a cascading adventure into syncopated funk layering as the solos are merely just a part of the mood of this ten minute endeavor. "Actual Proof" is just that. Herbie offers musicians a genuine jazzfunk test-piece that tornadoes through a barage of meters and chords giving the listener a sonic plateful. Track three, "Butterfly" is mysterious and seems to really speak to the nature of these beautiful creatures. The sounds found here move from serene and stirring to ultra-lively, or in this case, ultra funky. Mike Clarks double-time funk foundation found at the end of this piece is truly worth the wait. In the last track we find a sort of culmination of the sounds featured on the album; an epilogue, if you will. "Spank-a-Lee" is a blissfully energetic piece that features saxaphonist, Bennie Maupin, and highlights the rhythmic mastery of Herbie's accompaniment. All in all, "Thrust" is truly a must for any funk-jazz connoisseur.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2001
Groove-meisters everywhere are celebrating this long-awaited reissue. "Thrust" continues in the 70's fusion/funk vein of "Headhunters," yet in a somewhat different style. Instead of phat, head-bobbin' grooves like "Chameleon" and "Watermelon Man," this album features more rambling, frentic, sixteenth-note jams. Much of the difference lies in the switch to "never-play-one-note-where-ten-will-do" Mike Clark on drums. He and his bass counterpart Paul Jackson Jr. put on an absolute sixteenth-note-groove clinic. "Palm Grease" is a full-helping of mid-tempo James-Brown funk. "Actual Proof" and "Spank-a-Lee" are breathtaking rapid-fire burners, the latter recalling Tower of Power in its most inspired moments. None of the numbers feature much in the way of song development, but if you're a true believer in the power of the groove, you must add this to your collection.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2004
This 1974 release is one of the best fusion jazz releases ever. Whenever I listen to this cd I just want to "space out" and forget the outside world for just a while. The art work on the cover was also one of the coolest from the '70's
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2008
"Thrust" is the ultimate statement by the Headhunters, and ranks as Herbie Hancocks best and funkiest album. Highlighted by the bombastic drumming of Mike Clark (who knew a white boy could groove THAT hard) "Palm Grease" features Herbie's now trademark Rhodes and Clavanet. Yet, "Thrust" features a dominating arsenal of ARP synthesizer's that add awe-inspiring textures to all four tunes. Throughout "Palm Grease"'s 10 minutes Herbie and Bennie Maupin shoot fire over Paul Jackson and Mike Clark's endless groove. "Actual Proof" features Maupin on Flute, and showcases one of Herbie longest electric piano solo's. The melody of this tune is also unforgetable. "Butterfly" is where things get REAL good. This eleven minute groove features some of the best Sax, Rhodes, and Synth playing ever but of vinyl. If you bought the album for one song, this would be the one. Side two was rounded out by "Spank-A-Lee", a the funkiest number, purely influenced by Sly. This album is more than a worthy follow up to "Headhunters", and it's follow-up "Man-Child" is worthy as well.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 1999
Why this album was just reissued last year is completely annoying. This album is absolutely mind-blowing in terms of jazz-funk ensemble playing. These five gents sound like they've been playing together for eons and this date was just like another jam session. Every note played on here is oozing with passion. They just sound so relaxed. The first cut, Palm Grease is one of the deepest grooves EVER.period. Mike Clark, you my friend are a monster drummer!! These guys just sound so well together, like they all had this crazy telepathic connection, knowing what the other guys are gonna play next. I don't think I can say anymore about this album, I just hope you own a copy.