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Head Hunters Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered

4.8 out of 5 stars 153 customer reviews

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Head Hunters
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Audio CD, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, March 25, 1997
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

No Description Available
No Track Information Available
Media Type: CD
Street Release Date: 03/25/1997
Genre: JAZZ

Keyboardist Herbie Hancock's remarkable career took a surprising turn with this funk album--one of the first jazz albums to be certified gold. Hancock's already-storied career had included an extended tenure with Miles Davis as a member of both the classic quintet of the '60s and the trumpeter's groundbreaking electric dates. As a leader, the pianist had followed a similar course, cutting both outstanding acoustic dates (Maiden Voyage, Empyrean Isles) and experimental electric sessions (Sextant, Crossings).

Head Hunters, however, was something different: a stripped-down date featuring reedman Bennie Maupin as the only horn player, and a funk-oriented rhythm section made up of Paul Jackson, Harvey Mason, and Bill Summers. Hancock traded in his sophisticated piano performances and complex compositions for simple melodies, slow-burn funk grooves, and light electric keyboard splashes. The results, particularly on the tracks "Chameleon" and "Watermelon Man," had a profound impact on other musicians, although critics charged Hancock with playing to the galleries. But the album has stood the test of time--something neither the wealth of Hancock's imitators nor his own subsequent albums in this vein have been able to do. --Fred Goodman

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 25, 1997)
  • Original Release Date: March 25, 1997
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Columbia / Legacy
  • Run Time: 42 minutes
  • ASIN: B000002AGP
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (153 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,799 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Wesley Townsend on February 24, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I am mostly a heavy metal fan, I am a big fan of bands like Sabbath, Maiden, Zeppelin, Purple, and you know, all the classics. I kind of bought Headhunters on a whim after seeing it on someone's list on this site. I have had it about 3 days, and it is already one of my all-time favorite albums. I know next to nothing about jazz OR funk, but all I know is that this record kicks my ....
The first half, "Chameleon" and "Watermelon Man" consists of I guess the most accessible material on the album. I knew I would become a fan as soon as I listened to these two killer songs. The last half also has 2 songs, "Sly" and "Vein Melter". I'll be honest, I did not really care for these songs when I first heard them, but I made myself listen to the whole album a few more times, and now I think that the 2nd side of the album has just as much, if not more, redeeming value than the 1st half!
All of the musicians on Headhunters are playing brilliantly. The saxophone player can tear such a good solo! The drum and bass rhythm section are killer, they lay down such a tight groove. And of course, there is Herbie Hancock himself, who plays a variety of keyboard instruments. He plays synthesizers and even a "clavinet" (this is new to me) that sounds like a guitar. This guy rocks so hard! Every song is different and unique, and all 42 minutes of it blow me away. The solos (keys and saxophone) are so awesome, and they are so long! They seem to last forever, and the jams just get more and more intense second after second.
Now I will have to get more music by Herbie he rocks! (and his band, of course, they deserve plenty of credit.) People seem to be saying that Maiden Voyage is great, so I guess I'll get that next.....
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Format: Audio CD
Despite the fact that jazz purists and critics have labeled him a sell out, Herbie Hancock has proven himself to be a classic artist in the pantheon of jazz as well as funk with this stellar release. With a strong and steadfast opener called "Chameleon", Bassist Paul Jackson sets the foundation with his famous and unrivaled chromatic bass line. Added is Herbie's wah-induced keyboards, and then an all out funk jam is unleashed upon the listener's ears. The highlight of this song in my opinion is the modal section where the bass line changes and you can here some moody improvisation. The most popular track however, would have to be a groovy new version of Hancock's famous "Watermelon Man" with great percussion by Bill Summers. "Sly" follows with great pulsing rhythms, fabulous drum work by Harvey Mason, and a soaring Soprano sax by Maupin. The funk turns to an ethereal, experimental jam later with my personal favorite "Vein Melter". Sonic textures from Herbie's keyboards are layered with Maupin's subtle but sensual clarinet line. A great closing number that will leave you satisfied. Though some may not compare it to great works from Miles Davis or John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock's Headhunters will remain my favorite jazz album for years to come. It's influence has penetrated deep within modern hip-hop as well as jazz itself.
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Format: Audio CD
Either too much or not much can be said about Herbie Hancock's monumental masterpiece, HeadHunters. It is, without a doubt, one of the best and most influential recordings of the 20th century. Even 28 years from its inception, HeadHunters continues to influence music. All the "greats" of Hip Hop and Rap, from Puff Daddy to Dr. Dre have Herbie Hancock to thank. Herbie created funk grooves and instrumental inventions still advanced to latest attempts. Yet, sadly enough, Hilfiger-sporting, bleach-haired, suburbanite preps have no idea that the lastest masterpieces by Eminem couldn't have been without Hancock and the HeadHunters.
Hopefully, you, the prospective buyer, have either heard HeadHunters before or are listening to the samples at this moment. You should be beginning to understand the impact that this album made. If you are familiar with previous fusion, you know that this sound hadn't really started yet. And if you have a virgin ear, perhaps you are hearing the future during the past for the first time. My favorite song on the album remains to be "Watermelon Man". It is hip-hop, funk, and jazz at its finest. When I hear this song, I hear the beats and grooves of so many artists twenty years after, desperately trying to match its intensity. Furthermore, although there are so many highlights in HeadHunters, Saxophonist Bennie Maupin stands out. He is able to bring smooth, melodic, fast, and furious sounds into all the sounds and should be commended. HeadHunters appeals to such a broad audience because there is so much of "it" there, exactly what you want to hear at exactly the right time.
I have found only one qualm with HeadHunters, and it is not necesarily bad. I wanted more.
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Format: Audio CD
This album was my first experience with Herbie Hancock's solo work. I knew his work with the Davis quintet well; albums like "Miles Smiles" showcase his acoustic piano genius at full throttle. I had no clue what I was getting into when I found this gem at a used record store (in the bargain bin?!?!?!).

The album opens with one of the greatest bass lines ever conceived, and instantly the listener is thrown head-first into the funky head-bobbing grandeur of "Chameleon". For me, this was one of those rare musical moments in which I instantly fell deeply in love with everything I was hearing. The rhythm section of drummer Harvey Mason and bassist Paul Jackson lay down the fat, dense jazz-funk that would become the standard for 70's fusion and beyond. Mason's drums sound a little dated with that punchy, muffled 70's tone, but in a good way; it's oh so characteristic and wonderful to the ears, and the man is a beast of a drummer. "Chameleon" transitions from a danceable hard funk piece with some mighty playing from Herbie and saxophonist Bennie Maupin into a more ethereal fusion-jazz mode featuring one of the most subtle and irresistable bass licks I've ever heard. It then transitions back to the funk after a glorious climax, and the track fades out with Maupin once again soloing like a madman.

"Watermelon Man" begins with what I suppose could be called a beer bottle, flute, and yelping ensemble. If this sounds odd, just give it a listen and hear for yourself. Pure genius. It's probably the best known track from the album, and for good reason. Jackson throws down the groove towards the end of the intro (best bass line ever?), and from there the listener is undoubtedly grinning from ear to ear.
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