Herbie Hancock – Head Hunters (1974)

AllMusic Review: Head Hunters was a pivotal point in Herbie Hancock’s career, bringing him into the vanguard of jazz fusion. Hancock had pushed avant-garde boundaries on his own albums and with Miles Davis, but he had never devoted himself to the groove as he did on Head Hunters. Drawing heavily from Sly Stone, Curtis Mayfield, and James Brown, Hancock developed deeply funky, even gritty, rhythms over which he soloed on electric synthesizers, bringing the instrument to the forefront in jazz. It had all of the sensibilities of jazz, particularly in the way it wound off into long improvisations, but its rhythms were firmly planted in funk, soul, and R&B, giving it a mass appeal that made it the biggest-selling jazz album of all time (a record which was later broken). Jazz purists, of course, decried the experiments at the time, but Head Hunters still sounds fresh and vital decades after its initial release, and its genre-bending proved vastly influential on not only jazz, but funk, soul, and hip-hop. — Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Track Listing

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Chameleon” Hancock, Jackson, Mason, Maupin 15:41
2. Watermelon Man Hancock; arranged by Mason 6:29
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
3. “Sly” Hancock 10:15
4. “Vein Melter” Hancock 9:09

 

 

Schill Score:   7/10

 

Listen to Album

 

Leonard Cohen – Songs Of Love And Hate (1971)

AllMusic Review: Songs of Love and Hate is one of Leonard Cohen’s most emotionally intense albums — which, given the nature of Cohen’s body of work, is no small statement. While the title Songs of Love and Hate sums up the album’s themes accurately enough, it’s hardly as simple as that description might lead you to expect — in these eight songs, “love” encompasses the physical (“Last Year’s Man”), the emotional (“Famous Blue Raincoat”), and the spiritual (“Joan of Arc”), and the contempt in songs like “Dress Rehearsal Rag” and “Avalanche” is the sort of venom that can only come from someone who once cared very deeply. The sound of the album is clean and uncluttered, and for the most part the music stays out of the way of the lyrics, which dominate the songs. Thankfully, Cohen had grown noticeably as a singer since his first two albums, and if he hardly boasts a range to rival Roy Orbison here, he is able to bring out the subtleties of “Joan of Arc” and “Famous Blue Raincoat” in a way his previous work would not have led you to expect. And while Bob Johnston’s production is spare, it’s spare with a purpose, letting Cohen’s voice and guitar tell their stories and using other musicians for intelligent, emotionally resonant punctuation (Paul Buckmaster’s unobtrusive string arrangements and the use of a children’s chorus are especially inspired). And Songs of Love and Hate captured Cohen in one of his finest hours as a songwriter, and the best selections (especially “Famous Blue Raincoat,” “Joan of Arc,” and “Love Calls You by Your Name”) rank with the most satisfying work of his career. If Songs of Love and Hate isn’t Cohen’s best album, it comes close enough to be essential to anyone interested in his work. — Mark Deming

Track Listing

Side one

  1. “Avalanche” – 5:01
  2. “Last Year’s Man” – 6:02
  3. “Dress Rehearsal Rag” – 6:12
  4. “Diamonds in the Mine” – 3:52

Side two

  1. “Love Calls You by Your Name” – 5:44
  2. “Famous Blue Raincoat” – 5:15
  3. “Sing Another Song, Boys” (Live at the Isle of Wight Festival, August 31, 1970) – 6:17
  4. “Joan of Arc” – 6:29

 

Schill Score:  7.25/10

 

Listen to Album