Autobiographical Order No. 209: Herbie Hancock – Head Hunters

Is Head Hunters the funkiest album of all time? It’s at least in the running, a top-10 contender. Probably top five. Probably top three. I’m generally not the type of person to judge an album based on how funky, or how metal or how punk or whatever something is. But when you take a genre’s characteristics and heighten them, deepen them, exaggerate them to the extent that you’re essentially redefining it, then you’re doing something radical and admirable.

That’s essentially what Herbie Hancock did with Head Hunters. It’s one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time, and with good reason. It’s more accessible than most jazz albums, and takes the improvisation and groove of jazz and gives that structure some damn hooks. It’s no wonder that this album, as heard on my dad’s stereo, was one of the first jazz records to resonate with me. Probably because it registered as funk. Full stop.

“Chameleon” is a monster of a track. Fifteen minutes of groove that could just as easily be 30 and not be long enough. I put this on a  mixtape for a friend, once, taking up a full third of a side. He knew the song already, but had no objections. Once you hear that bassline, you are in it for the long haul.

I think I’m just leaving it at that today. No need to go overboard. It’s another Record Show find, an album that you need to grab once you find it. But it’s essential, it’s amazing, and it’s definitely funky.

Rating: 10.0

Sound Quality: Great


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