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What the funk?
on 25 July 2012
My 2004 edition of The Penguin Guide to Jazz tells me this is 'the biggest selling jazz record of all time'. My question is: why?
I've tried and tried over the years with this 1973 album from a man whom I admire and respect as much as almost any jazz musician - the genius who gave us Maiden Voyage and Empyrean Isles a decade earlier - but I simply don't hear what is supposed to be so great about it. Maybe at the time it sounded different, radical even, though Miles (as usual) had already beaten a similar path a few years before.
I've awarded a decent three stars because it isn't quite music I actively dislike, simply an album I feel has been overrated to an absurd degree. It wasn't the happiest day for jazz when certain keyboardists fell in love with electricity. Hancock fell hook, line and sinker, and this mixture of lyricism and aural mush is the most famous result.
The opener, Chameleon, I find virtually unlistenable, and very hackneyed as a piece of electronic jazz funk. If you want a version of Watermelon Man that actually does the tune justice, get hold of his debut album, Takin' Off. The final number here, Vein Melter, is a quieter affair, is rather beguiling, and is over all too soon.
Hancock is one of the key figures of post-war jazz but Head Hunters is, at least for this jazz lover, way off his best.
No, I shall persevere with it no longer. It's just not for me.