on 9 November 2006
'Oh Yeah!' is Jan Hammer's third solo album (the second for Nemperor Records). It is probably the one with the strongest element of straight jazz rock running through all the tracks. His earlier Nemperor album 'The First Seven Days' had more emphasis on electronica, hinting towards the future Miami Vice period. The first album had been recorded for the German label BASF: that straighter jazz. Now with the full catalogue of Hammer's solo and group albums available on CD, a clear progression can be heard as Hammer moved away from the jazz rock of Mahavishnu Orchestra, through funk and Latin towards straighter rock and then into electronica. The shift away from jazz rock, shown by a near absense on the third solo release 'Melodies', where Hammer and Co. were into funk (indeed lightweight soul) and more electronica. It should be noted that while Hammer's own music was moving slowly away from the jazz influences, he was also a prolific session musician, on call to provide his immediately identifable keyboard sound for the likes of Al DiMeola, John Abercrombie, Jeff Beck, Horace Arnold, Tony Williams and Elvin Jones during this period.
With 'Oh yeah!' you will get the tight interplay between violin and keys on some tracks, that had earlier characterised MO's music. But through use of funky bass lines - from both electric bass and low register Mini-Moog - we are treated to more soulful, groove-based jazz rock than experienced from MO, e.g. check the title track. Some soulful vocals add to this view. But what is perhaps unique for the time, was the funk with violin - although both Michael White and Michel Urbaniak were to release funky violin albums later. And then because of Hammer second musicial love, that of percussion, funk gives way to grooved-based Latin-jazz rock. One track to pick out: 'Red & Orange'. Jan Hammer plays quite a different, more jazz-based Hammond organ interpretation of this tune on John Abercrombie's 'Timeless ' (itself a great version). However, the 'Oh Yeah!' version has all the stops out and let the fireworks explode, reflecting the great energy and dynamics of the whole album.
Some personal factors:
>This has been in my all time top ten selection of jazz rock albums since first buying the LP version in 1976. But with only the vinyl version available until now, it hasn't had its fair share of play over the last 5 year, (cf. my favourite recordings on CD). So with the arrival of this CD, I was wondering if it would still stands up as a personal timeless classic?
> Soon after getting my first CD player, circa 1987 I drew up a 'must replace my then worn vinyl with CD'list. This list totalled 107 LPs, many as obscure as you can get. Nevertheless the 106th to be found was released last year unannounced and duly purchased i.e. 'Don Ellis Live At Fillmore', at which point I thought No. 107 - 'Oh Yeah!' - was doomed never to get a CD issued. But earlier this year Jan Hammer received an award from Moog Instruments in NYC, when he played music from 'Oh Yeah!' supported by the tribute band, Mahavishnu Project - at which point I grew more certain 'Oh Yeah!' was on its way. Now here it is 30 years after the LP release.
Having not listened to this album properly for several years, the CD has been set on continuous play over the last 3 days. I am reminded of a familar friend who I have not seen for some times, but all the qualities of the past came flooding back on reacquaintance. Indeed why this is one of my top ten jazz rock album. Still a classic.
(BTW the liner notes state Jan Hammer did the remastering).
on 20 January 2014
This is flawless, virtuously played jazz-rock, a must for any connesseur of artistically performed LOUD music!
The tunes are great, I've been humming "One to one" for years after I, alas, sold my vinyl records. I'am glad to have this esquisite album back in my music collection.