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4.9 out of 5 stars7
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on 4 June 2001
This was the followup to 'Head Hunters' and I think it is a better album, it is more focused, more exciting and, yes, more funky! The band are all on top form following the success of their last album and it really shows. Herbie grooves away to his hearts content on the keyboard instruments, Paul Jackson's bass is sooo funky and anyone learning to play the bass could get so much from this guy's style - Check out the last track 'Spank a Lee', Mmmmmmmmm!! - He rates up along side the amazingly brilliant Jaco in my opinion; Bennie Maupin is still in charge of all wind instruments and does a fab job - Check out the flute at the end of 'Actual Proof'. New drummer Mike Clark and Bill Summers are just unbelieveable. The opening track 'Palm Grease' builds up from a cool drum beat courtesy of Mike Clark to a ten minute groove with pumpin' bass, funky clavinet and flowing saxophone. To follow this comes 'Actual Proof', it is fast, furious and funky. The main riff comes about a minute into the piece and is followed with a sweeeeet Fender Rhodes solo from ol' Herbie. It speeds around for another 10 minutes before coming to a close. 'Butterfly' slows things down and we have 11 minutes of chill time. If the rest of the album wasn't, 'Spank-A-Lee' is just pure funk. The bass is speedy and excellent, the drumming is tight and the beat is one you'd dream of being able to play, cool, manic sax and top keyboards from Herbie (as always). If you thought Head Hunters was as funky as things got but you're on the look out for yet more top grooves then this is the album for you. There's no need to say any more - Go out and buy it!
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Although Columbia released the solo keys album Dedication (Japan only) between this and Headhunters, this is really Herbie's actual proper full-on follow-up, being as it's still the Head Hunters unit, albeit with Mike Clark stepping in on drums, and it got a worldwide release. On paper the decision to change drummer must've looked near mad, after the success of Head Hunters, and it's not just any drummer we're talking about replacing, it's Harvey Mason. It's almost like saying, 'yeah, Led Zep should've got a new drummer after Bonham'!

Well, admittedly changing line-ups are much more a regular thing in the jazz world than in the pop-rock domain, but nevertheless, it was a risky gamble. But boy, did it pay off! Whilst I don't want to get drawn into some multi-culti race-related issues, for me, as a white drummer that loves a lot of music that is largely Afro-American in origin, to see and hear Mike Clark integrate so well into this band is pure bliss. Again, as with Head Hunters, the group is so cohesive, and the mix is so balanced between chops and feel, intellect and soul, it has effects simultaneously intellectual and visceral, a total mind-body unity is experienced in what I like to call ecstatic eargasm.

Palm Grease kick thinks off with a confusingly phrased 4-4 groove, Clark displacing a few key accents, and the whole band effortlessly grooving, or at least giving that impression, atop this wonky funky groove. Bill Summer's percussion once again is worthy of note and praise. Then we're hit with the jaw dropping dexterity and fluidity of Actual Proof, chops and feel united in a juju gumbo to satisfy all appetites. Once again the complexity and syncopation of the rhythmic components make for a slightly dizzying effect, even while the band remains in normal time. I think they may slip in a few extra beats or just space out here and there in the divinely cosmic flute-melody head arrangement. Mike Clark's playing on this track ranks amongst my favourite drumming ever, blending with Paul Jackson's slinky funky bass in a way that is beyond mere perfection. Awesome is such an overused word these days, but this number is exactly that: truly awesome.

Whereas the 1973 Head Hunters recording, whilst all brilliant, has a single standout cut (Chameleon), Thrust has two: Actual Proof being the first; the next is third track Butterfly. A lot of the music Herbie and co. made in this period is not just intense, but busily intense. Butterfly is still pretty intense, but also beautifully laid back and mellow. They do step it up a bit for a while under some of the solos, but they start and end in a delicate heaven. Spank A Lee lives up to the title, being sexy, struttin', showboating jazz-funk. All four tracks are five star fare. You'd need a much bigger scale to differentiate their relative values!

Sublime, inspiring, and utterly essential.
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on 12 October 2006
Herbie Hancock is a clever man. In 1974, recording his third album on Columbia, after the huge success of Head Hunters, he knew exactly what kind of sound he wanted for his follow-up. The end result, Thrust, is a dizzying cocktail of fast-and-furious funk, and trippy grooves. While it never quite reaches the giddy heights of Head Hunters, it gets damn close, and Hancock deserves credit for taking his sound in dazzling new directions.

If it ain't broke, Herbie will fix it; in '74, he fiddled with a line-up that recorded the second most successful jazz album of all time. By replacing the brilliant Harvey Mason with newboy Mike Clark on drums, Hancock changed the sound of his whole group- giving the music more of a straight funk feel rather than the earthy jazz-funk sound witnessed on Head Hunters.

From the outset, Mike Clark makes his presence felt on Palm Grease. A straight-up funk intro which defies his jazz roots is followed by catchy riffs, awesome percussion, and a far-out, cosmic ending. The incredibly tricky Actual Proof showcases brilliant technical ability all round, with a great solo from Hancock, reminding us that this is still his album.

Track 3, Butterfly follows- spellbinding, awesome, cool, mind-blowing. Simply brilliant. Hancock takes a "simple" fm11-am9 riff, and turns it into something majestic. But, we are given no time to rest because the final track, the hideously named Spank-a-lee, combines awesome playing with.....well, just awesome playing. Hancock seems to take a back-seat in this funk-romp, rightly letting Bennie Maupin and Mike Clark steal the last few minutes through the latter's brilliant filling, with the former's maniacal soloing.

And that's Thrust. Thrust is as much an awesome album as it is a showcase of Herbie Hancock's honourable standings in the music world. Where many people would have stuck to the same formula of their previous ludicrously successful album, Herbie continued to creativley push himself, and came up with a mini-masterpiece.
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on 12 June 2005
I have seen Herbie live at the Barbican (best gig ever!!!) and I have been loving Headhunters for a long time now but wasn't sure where to go next so I looked up reviews on Amazon about this CD called Thrust. I went out and bought this CD and it is absolutely fantastic. Herbie maintains the funky, groovy interlocking rhythms that defined other classics such as Fat Albert Rotunda and Headhunters. The first track "Palm Grease"
Immediately dives into the groove with the thumping drums of Mike Clark (who has written an essay inside the liner notes). The different effects Herbie has at his disposal are extraordinary and these kinds of things have helped Herbie develop his restless sense of creativity and more importantly his career. Another awesome element of this album is Bennie Maupin's superb horn-blowing (he even uses a wah-wah) pedal. He was great on Headhunters and he maintains that brilliance here especially on "Spank - a-lee". As said on the back of the CD: Thrust remains a bible of advanced, but still accessible groove playing. If you love Herbie and you love funk then this is THE album for you. Or even if you're looking for a CD that picks up where Headhunters left then BUY THIS CD NOW!! You are guaranteed to love this disc.
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on 9 September 2002
The first 'Headhunters' album really opened my eyes to a whole new world of music, and wanting more, I bought this album, Thrust. I was not to be disappointed. Yet more fat funky bass from the reverential Jackson, more lilting horn solos from Maupin, more breath-takingingly impressive stuff from Herbie on his large arrange of electric pianos, and more roots percussion from the ever present Bill Summers. The one change to the line-up from the first album, Mike Clark, on drums, whose complex cross-rhythms really add another dimension to the album, really slips straight into the band. In short, if you liked Headhunters, this is a whole heap of the same, so BUY IT! You will not be disappointed and soon it will become an indespensible part of your collection.
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on 5 July 2015
Thrust's first track Palm Grease opens with Mike Clark's (later Brand X) drums. Bit by bit the whole band joins and they find path to funk groove including Maupin's wah wah tenor and Hancock's electric piano. Amazing track, pure funk! Then follows Actual Proof. Sometimes little complex, but these musicians know what they are doing. Again drum work is so groovy, quite a man this Clark! Maupin's flute adds some kind of lightness, but the funk pulse is all the time there. Butterfly is one of my favourite Sunday mornings songs. Very beautiful, so relaxing. Last track Spank-A-Lee is pure funk. What a way to end your album, it's sure listener will have a big smile in his face!
Thrust is even better than Headhunters. Of course if you love this kind of funk groove you need to have borth albums. It's so refreshing listen these kind of albums. The band really enjoys playing and they certainly had fun time making this!
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on 4 May 2007
Having read great reviews for this album, after having listened to Headhunters and after having see him live in the best musical experience of my life in November 2006, I decided to by this album. Frankly, I was slightly dissapointed, but perhaps I had been previously spoilt by the offering of Headhunters and the amazing live performance. I do not profess to be a jazz expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I can only describe my own feelings towards the tracks on this album:

I found Palm Grease to be a rather protracted track and, while it may be unfair to compare it with the equaivalent first track on Headhunters, it lacked the mind-blowing high that Chameleon has. 3/5

Actual Proof is a very intelligent track which introduces the melody extremely well, before allowing Herbie to play a pretty decent solo accompanied by breaking riffs at regular intervals. Again, I feel as if it's leading us up to heights which it never manages to reach. 3.5/5

Spank-a-lee I found to be a slightly funkier version of Palm Grease. 3/5

So, why have I given this album 4 stars? Well, because the 3rd track Butterfly is by far the most astounding tune I have heard by Hancock - or anyone - to date, having since puchased Secrets, Fat Albert Rotunda, Mwandishi and Sextant. It starts off with a dreamy, mellow melody allowing you to sit back and relax to Maupin's saxophone, with Hancock playing simple flowing chords. Suddenly, the accompanying bass changes and we are greeted with Herbie's presence becoming more involved, playing alongside a fantastic solo by Maupin, which manages to take you up to the high that the album's been begging for.

Hancock's susbequent solo takes you down from the high with a beautiful, dreamy sequence, before the pace suddenly changes and we are treated to 2 minutes of an amazingly groovy, funky rhythm, until the pace changes back again and the opening melody is played out until the end of the track. 5/5

Butterfly is a true musical journey for me, and I would certainly recommend purchasing this album for this tune alone, if you haven't already got it elsewhere (e.g. on the Essential Herbie Hancock compilation). Otherwise, I would recommend you get a good listen to this album first before committing to buy.
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