If there was ever an introduction that embodied the complete essence of its album, it must be the famous bass line that begins Chameleon. From the opening note, a sense of cool is established that never lets up but for the furious solos on Sly.
Where do you start with Chameleon? It is a staple of funk music, a tune that is known to people who have never listened to jazz in their life, arguably the most famous genre crossover piece in history. BUT, bizarrely, it's perhaps the weakest track on Head Hunters, simply because of the quality of the tunes that follow.
Watermelon Man, funked up from Hancock's Takin' Off (Blue Note, 1963) standard, is given a lazy, half time feel, and easily eclipses the original. Sly, is where the cool feel of the album is briefly broken for insanely energetic solos by Bennie Maupin and then Herbie. The album is finished off with Vein Melter- a deeply chilled out effort that recalls Crossings' (Warner Bros, 1971) Water Torture, and returns the album's tone back into the blue.
Head Hunters is not a perfect album(witness the drums and the bass disagreeing over tempo after the electric piano solo on Chameleon, or Vein Melter's dodgy synth strings), but I like to think that no other jazz-funk album, Hancock's or anyone elses, has ever surpassed it. It remains one of my favourite albums, and a great introduction to Herbie Hancock's funk music.