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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Head Hunters

Herbie Hancock

1973

Buy At Rough Trade
Head Hunters
Album Summary

Head Hunters is the twelfth studio album by American pianist and composer Herbie Hancock, released October 26, 1973, on Columbia Records. Recording sessions for the album took place in the evening at Wally Heider Studios and Different Fur Trading Co. in San Francisco, California. The album was a commercial and artistic breakthrough for Hancock, crossing over to funk and rock audiences and bringing jazz-funk fusion to mainstream attention, peaking at number 13 on the Billboard 200. Hancock is featured with his ‘Mwandishi’ saxophonist Bennie Maupin and new collaborators- bassist Paul Jackson, percussionist Bill Summers and drummer Harvey Mason. All of the musicians (with the exception of Mason) play multiple instruments.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.57

Votes

11312
Genres
Jazz
Funk

Reviews

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Fri Aug 06 2021
5

On repeat during high school and college years. Perhaps the most accessible jazz album of all time for those more inclined towards rock music. So solid and catchy. Dictionary definition of a groove from start to finish. Might be the funkiest thing I've ever heard.

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Sat Aug 07 2021
5

Absolutely classic and important album, to me at least. The grooves on this album are superb and arrangement is everything. Everyone was on

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Mon Oct 11 2021
5

I'm glad this album made one misstep so I don't have to give it a 5-star rating. If you reverse the order of "Sly" and "Vein Melter". As it is, it is only a 4.95-star album. Note: I rounded up.

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Thu Jan 06 2022
5

it's nice when my notes for a 1001 album can be easy like "it's head hunters" It's head hunters.

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Mon Nov 01 2021
5

5/5 Disagree and i'll fight you.

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Mon Jul 05 2021
5

Groove-adelic. Loved the creativity and fun-kiness.

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Mon Aug 16 2021
5

The funkiest jazz, most 70s sounding jazz fusion album ever

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Mon Sep 13 2021
5

An insane, electrifying album from front to back. Incredible performances, engaging music. Can't speak any more highly of this one. Favorite tracks: "Chameleon", "Watermelon Man"

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Tue Feb 08 2022
5

An unconventional and accessible display of performing jazz masterfully despite nothing like this ever being done before. "Chameleon" is characterized by a recognizable funky bass line, electrifying piano and synths that come in and out at the forefront, and a groovy Miami-vibe half way in before slowly returning to the formula. "Watermelon Man" is an even stranger track, taking inspiration from African music with the beer blowing, and a much sexier, harder funk sound reminiscent of James Brown. There's so much going on that there's always something to idolize upon each listen. Has my favorite sax... there's even a segment around the 4-5 minute mark where I hear two saxes. "Sly" is the most colorful track for sure, undergoing a new transformation every couple minutes or so. It's crazy this is an album where people are calling THIS the weak track. Least iconic, yes, but impressively composed with attention made to each second. Starts and ends with a sexy spy theme, interluded with how fast can you keep up. "Vein Melter" is a slow, mellow, yet atmospheric closer to leave the audience satisfied after the insane displays shown previously. Feels a little classical here and there.

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Tue Oct 12 2021
2

I feel like one of these songs was definitely background music for one of those transitional Sesame Street sketches showing People in Their Everyday Lives.

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Mon Sep 20 2021
1

Not really my thing. I don’t enjoy 10 minute long jazzy instrumentals. Didn’t mind the first couple minutes, but 40+ minutes, nope.

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Tue Jan 09 2024
4

had a great time listening / weird-dancing to Watermelon Man with the girls before school. It starts out so goofy and strange, they were mesmerized… but then the bass and drums kick in and all of a sudden it’s a jam. i can absolutely hear HHs influence on modern hip-hop.

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Wed Jan 31 2024
4

Very funky. Loved this thought it was great, very different from pretty much anything else we've had so far. It was different but not in an experimental way. Loved the instruments, really well done. Even though the songs were long they didn't drag (take notes Bob Dylan). Loved this.

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Sat Nov 06 2021
1

Herbie Hancock, Matt's more accessible, more likeable, older brother. He paints a glowing rainbow of joy upon the faces of everyone who meets him. Everyone apart from me. Colour my life with the chaos of trouble, I just can't stand the man! His music SUCKS! He's a greasy weasel, a gym instructor, a nuclear rocket, a baseball bat, a fat controller, a modest mouse, a toilet brush, the misadventures of Romesh Ranganation, a stain upon a front tooth, a garden gnome, a rainy afternoon, a cunt.

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Sat Jul 03 2021
5

I liked it, cool music. Something completely new for me, but extremely enjoyable. Will listen to again.

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Tue Oct 05 2021
5

Fantastic album. Herbie Hancock is a fusion pioneer and this album is an excellent yet accessible foray into jazz funk fusion. The songs are very well constructed and build gradually and naturally. The musicianship is top notch of course and driven by Hancock’s playing of the Fender Rhodes electric piano. The improv breaks are impressive as well. This album is an absolute genre bending classic.

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Tue Oct 05 2021
5

I hate that jazz stuff.....jeeesus a 13 minute track.......oh that is good, that was never 13 minutes, what's next oh more YES but it's not really jazz.

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Fri Mar 25 2022
5

It feels almost inappropriate to review a Herbie Hancock LP. Perhaps he’s beyond the scope of critique and has ventured into that stratosphere of artists that simply need to be enjoyed, adored even. I was recently driving on my way to a business meeting, listening to KUVO (89.3 MHZ), Denver’s public radio jazz station, and heard a live cut that I immediately recognized as trumpeter, Miles Davis. It was from his 1964 concert at NYC’s Philharmonic Hall, a fundraiser (the musicians voluntarily played for free) for the Voter Education Project to register black voters in Louisiana and Mississippi. Of course, Miles Davis was his usual bad ass self, as were the rest of the players. When it came time for the pianist to solo, I almost had to pull my car over and stop. It truly took my breath away, one of the fastest piano improvisations I’ve ever heard. It was Herbie Hancock. So, I had high expectations for 'Head Hunters.' There are only four songs on this LP, predominately of the jazz/rock fusion genre, which is not something I typically enjoy. I lean more towards the ‘free’ jazz of folks like saxophonists John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, or pianists Bill Evans and Sun Ra, cats like that. So, when ‘Chameleon’ began, this LP’s opener, with that oh so 70’s clavinet sound, some spacey synth work and such (by the way, at about the seven minute mark during one such synth solo, Hancock shifts up into a whole other key just for a moment while the band remains where they are, creating an incredible auditory experience), I was diggin’ it enough, appreciating the smooth textures; but, I wasn’t exactly floored. Hancock continued with some great Fender Rhodes electronic piano soloing for a while accompanied by a quick and funky drum and bass groove, and then layered on a lovely string synth arrangement. It gave me the impression of flying amidst the clouds. It was terrific, don’t get me wrong. But again, the jazz/rock fusion is not my thing. I recognized the second track, ‘Watermelon Man,’ and I bet a lot of folks who never listen to jazz will too. I’m guessing its been used in movie soundtracks or commercial ads, etc. Regardless, it was more of the same, with the addition of a cool little flute intro by Bennie Maupin, and then concluding the last minute or so with a nice bit of cross syncopation between flute and bass, the drums all the while keeping a steady beat. OK, that was cool, too. Maupin’s sax playing, though, was sounding a little pedestrian. And as I’ve no doubt been spoiled by the extraordinary talent of John Coltrane, I was prepared to give the LP three, maybe four stars and call it a day. Until the third track, ‘Sly.’ Beginning with a soft, mellow vibe (nice congas in the background), out of the blue about two minutes in, Hancock just stopped the whole thing down, then did this wild soaring thing on the synth, at which time the tempo took flight as well. For the next 7-8 minutes, the band was ‘going off the rails on a crazy train,’ in the words of vocalist Ozzie Osborn, but the train was free jazz rather than metal. And what a ride it was! It was almost as if the band said, ‘Allright, you’ve heard us just relaxing into the music, offering you our smooth jazz. But lest you think we’ve forgotten how to play hard core, buckle up brothers and sisters.’ Bennie Maupin lifted his sax to new heights, ala Coltrane. Then at the approximately five and a half minute mark, Hancock proceeded to set fire to the keys on his electric piano, like that live recording with Miles Davis I heard while driving. Now this was the shit! Man, by the time drummer Harvey Mason slowed back down to the original tempo to conclude the tune, I had to get out of my chair to go fetch my head which had tumbled off my neck at some point and rolled down the hall. I needed the final track at this point-‘Vein Melter’- the perfect way to end the LP, which began with a simple kick drum beat, and slowly adding a wa-wa bass, melancholy sax, and a vibrating electric piano, along with a lot of quirky synth sound effects throughout. Oh, and about two minutes in, some ethereal synth strings topping the whole thing like whipped cream on a sundae. This one begs for headphones and good bong hit, if you’re hip. In retrospect, I now understand and enjoy the first two jazz/rock fusion numbers, and their appropriate placement to the hard Be Boppin’ of ‘Sly,’ only to then finish with a great mellow closer. Like a musical stew, beginning with the prep work of chopping the vegetables and meat (‘Chameleon’), and then moving on to the saute stage (‘Watermelon Man’) caramelizing the ingredients, before the hard fucking boil of ‘Sly,’ and then letting the whole thing simmer for a while with ‘Vein Melter.’ The musical aroma filled the joint, and I wanted seconds, thirds. After it cooled, I sealed it all up in a Tupperware container and put it in the fridge for another helping tomorrow. This, my friends, is some good eatin’ for your ears. And I guarantee Head Hunters will fill ‘em right up. But whatever you do, don’t snack on any junk (Kenny G?) before this entree. Enter into this listen good and hungry. ‘Cause food/music always tastes best when you’re good and hungry.

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Thu Sep 09 2021
2

Starts exciting, but becomes a bit repetitive and uninspired. very nice bits but overall a bit too long. Sometimes you wonder if you did not put the same song on repeat.

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Wed Jun 30 2021
5

Actually really liked this. funny only hearing an album with 4 songs. not seen very often anymore

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Mon Jul 26 2021
5

Okay, hell yes. Chameleon alone makes this fantastic.

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Sat Jul 31 2021
5

Incredible Psychadlic Groovy as fuck jazz album masterpiece 9.5/10

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Fri Aug 06 2021
5

Epicly funky from the first second. This is a goddam masterpiece. Love the jazz fusion, love the balance of experimentation and improvisation against catchiness and hooks.

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Fri Aug 20 2021
5

One of my favorite records, and still probably only the third best Herbie Hancock album imo. I have a poster of this art hanging over my keyboard rig. This actually made me thinking about getting a tattoo of that weird yellow mask thing over Herbie's face

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Wed Sep 08 2021
5

One of my favorite jazz albums. I still remember hearing watermelon man for the first time in my history of jazz class. Great stuff.

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Thu Sep 16 2021
5

Amazing groove. Instrumental jazz is not usually my thing but I may have to buy this on vinyl. Really cool. Even the synth is cool.

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Mon Sep 20 2021
5

I listen to this album all the time, not even going to lie—might even be my fave Hancock release. Not just a classic, but let’s face it, a stoner classic—gets one’s head right, as it were. I prefer it to a lot of his more experimental 80s fare, pioneering though that may have been.

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Tue Sep 21 2021
5

I feel stupid that I know almost all of this music but didn’t know it was ALL Herbie Hancock. What a legend.

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Fri Oct 08 2021
5

Great Album. Something new for the '70s. Hancock still a leader for new music.

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Sun Oct 17 2021
5

muy bueno, me sirvió de soundtrack para limpiar la cocina y también para leer

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Tue Oct 19 2021
5

Have listened to this album countless times - own it on vinyl. Jazz classic. Maybe the most Herbie Hancock of Herbie Hancock albums? Chameleon and Watermelon Man obviously carry the album, but side 2 is still groovy.

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Wed Oct 20 2021
5

great oldie music almost brackground music

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Mon Oct 25 2021
5

Awesome, this music is exactly what I like. Favorite track is Chameleon.

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Tue Nov 30 2021
5

One of the key jazz fusion albums of the early '70s. Love the funky and groovy sound, though I slightly prefer Hancock's older work with albums like Empyrean Isles and Maiden Voyage.

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Tue Nov 30 2021
5

One of these albums that everyone knows and that is so clearly 5 star that there is not much to say.

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Mon Dec 06 2021
5

I actually own this on CD and listened the shit out of it back in the day Classic

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Wed Dec 15 2021
5

Jazzy and funky. Got really into some of his other stuff after listening to this.

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Thu Dec 16 2021
5

Jazz fusion at its finest, perhaps one of the greatest jazz albums period. Chameleon and the rerecording of Watermelon Man are particular highlights

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Fri Dec 17 2021
5

Gott grúv. Hressandi stöff

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Sun Jan 09 2022
5

Watermelon man is a classic. Funk-Jazz fusion at its finest.

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Sun Jan 09 2022
5

A classic of the genre. This is such a fun and groundbreaking record and I love it

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Fri Jan 21 2022
5

Really enjoyable. Embarrassingly I only knew Rockit. This is really good

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Thu Jan 27 2022
5

So fresh. So funky. This album hugger really hits the spot for me

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Wed Feb 02 2022
5

huh never ever would have listened to this of my own volition, so this is v interesante, no lyrics, just like...JAZZ and SYNTH its wonderful

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Thu Feb 03 2022
5

Till this day I only knew one song by Hancock and I regret not having listened to this album before.

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Wed Feb 09 2022
5

Нетленка Хэрби Хэнкока

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Sun Feb 20 2022
5

Stone cold classic. Loved this album since my teens.

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Wed Feb 23 2022
5

Its one of the coolest albums ever and needed to be twice as long

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Sat Mar 05 2022
5

Actually amazing. Really cool funk/jazz combo. No words, just grooves.

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Mon Mar 07 2022
5

today i learn the toejam & earl soundtrack was inspired by this and i fucking love it. groove after groove. jam after jam. funky fresh.

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Wed Mar 09 2022
5

I had no clue what I was walking into but was very happy with this music! Enjoyed it a lot!

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Fri Mar 11 2022
5

Irresistible jazz with an electronic edge. Groundbreaking and essential.

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Thu Mar 17 2022
5

C'est pour des albums comme ça que je suis ce site Prefs: Chameleon, Watermelon Man, Sly Moins pref: Vein Melter

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Sun Apr 03 2022
5

Admittedly, I don't listen to a ton of jazz. But this is one of my favorite jazz albums, one of just a few I actually own. Trippy, funky, sick grooves, front to back. Fave Songs (All songs, from most to least favorite): Watermelon Man, Chameleon, Vein Melter, Sly

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Mon Apr 11 2022
5

An album I already own, and for good reason - rock hard fusion played by some of the best in the biz. Not sure anyone who isn't already on the jazz train will be converted, although this bad boy does a decent job of reaching across the aisle to the funksters

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Wed May 11 2022
5

Full of epic and silly music. It's fun, it's funky, and I LIKE IT.

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Wed May 11 2022
5

This album was on constant rotation for me back in high school. It is great to dust you off and hear from you again, old friend; you are just as fantastic now as you were back then.

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Wed May 11 2022
5

5/5. Undeniable all-time classic :)

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Wed May 18 2022
5

Pretty much flawless jazz funk. First half is definitely superior, but this entire thing is a staggering work in terms of quality

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Wed Jun 01 2022
5

heyyyyyyyyy, watermelon man!!!!!’ this album is great.

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Wed Jun 01 2022
5

It’s a five after that first bass line. This album really taught me that dissonance in jazz isn’t just meant to be pretentious and gatekeepy. The funk can’t be contained

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Tue Jun 21 2022
5

Muchos estilos en 40 minutos...Funky (Los mejores bajos que se pueden escuchar estan acá) - Jungle Jazz - Disco ( una idea de disco eléctronico, antes de que todo explotara) Mejor canción: Watermelon Man

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Fri Jun 24 2022
5

tri massa, típico sonzao instrumental pro cara estudar enquanto curte

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Tue Jun 28 2022
5

yes. love jazz-funk. the intro sound in watermelon man O.o so fun. so good.

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Wed Jun 29 2022
5

This album is absolutely iconic from the very first bass note. I would consider this the best marriage of jazz and funk ever put together. Headhunters would serve as a template for a lot of great improvised music to come after it, especially for jazz artists like Medeski, Martin, and Wood. It's so smooth and yet infinitely groovy and danceable. A song like Watermelon Man shouldn't work as well as it does, but that's the level of skill that Hancock brings to this album, and he makes it look easy. There's lots of points in Herbie Hancock's career that you could point to as the pinnacle. The man played on some of Miles Davis's best albums for christ's sake, but for me this is the absolute best. It's a towering dance album that exists somewhere in the tension between the analogue and digital realms. It's not one to be missed 5/5

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Fri Jul 01 2022
5

You can always trust Herbie Hancock for finding a new groove, and dig gold out of it. Number of albums left to review or just listen to: 873 Number of albums from the list I find relevant enough to be mandatory listens: 69 (including this one) Albums from the list I *might* include in mine later on: 31 Albums from the list I will certainly *not* include in mine (many others are more important): 28

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Wed Jul 06 2022
5

I LOVE “Chameleon.” I used to listen to this one all the time on road trips. It doubles — for me — as toe-tapping easy-listening for reading as well as perfect music for dancing. “Watermelon Man” is funky and features West African percussion instruments — I wonder if this was one of the first times these instruments reached the American mainstream. “Sly” — undoubtedly a tribute to Sly Stone and “Vein Melter” are also great tunes with lives of their own.

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Sun Jul 10 2022
5

Chameleon, watermelon man, awesome. Great album

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Tue Jul 26 2022
5

Jazz fusion that rips all the way through. The cymbals on Sly got me bricked. The drum work on this album is so good. The Sax and keys were slapping.

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Tue Aug 23 2022
5

I love Herbie Hancock. Amazing groove, amazing artwork. 5 stars!

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Tue Sep 06 2022
5

Jazzy, funky sweet goodness. Absolutely phenomenal. Chameleon and Watermelon Men just smoke.

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Sun Sep 11 2022
5

Every time I play this it's even better than I remember

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Thu Sep 29 2022
5

Best song: Chameleon Classic jazz with some awesome, funky instrumentals.

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Sat Oct 08 2022
5

I was going to say my one criticism is that Herbie is having a little too much fun with the synth fx, but that’s also partly why this album is so good. Chameleon has one of my all-time favourite bass riffs, Watermelon Man is barely recognizable from the original but glad there are both versions, & the last 2 tracks are great complements to each other: the fiery sax & percussion of “Sly” is a world apart from the ethereal piano in “Vein Melter”. October 9, 2022

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Mon Oct 10 2022
5

Like Bitches Brew, this is an album that changed jazz forever.

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Tue Oct 11 2022
5

One of a couple perfect jazz/funk records. Could loop it endlessly without issue.

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Fri Oct 14 2022
5

What a brilliant album. Jazzy, funky. Loved it. It's only 4 songs, so I'm saving the whole thing, but my favourite was Watermelon Man and Chameleon

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Fri Oct 21 2022
5

Definitely varied and interesting. I dig the dub influence across it.

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