In some ways this is Freddie's hardest hitting album.
On the title track, the more obvious funk from his previous album, 'Red Clay' is stripped back into a hard and post bop workout that barrels along. It's full of blasting solos from both Hubbard and Henderson, with DeJohnette working like a demon on the kit for almost the entire seventeen plus minutes. In 'Straight Life' Hancock is given a long solo on electric piano, before making way for Benson and eventually, a return to the main theme.
'Mr Clean' is next, and it starts off a little more funky but has the same feel as 'Straight Life' with its faster solos and hard hitting playing nearly all round. A gentle middle section that begins around Hancock's solo is brief, then the ante is raised again. While still maintaining an intensity, with a little more in the way of shifts throughout this piece, this is the stand out.
Just trumpet and guitar close the record on 'Here's that Rainy Day' and Hubbard foreshadows his later soloing on follow up 'First Light.' While the song is pleasant enough, it doesn't match similar work on 'First Light' though it is the moment where Benson is most prominent, not always all that present in the mix during the opening two tracks.
One thing to note is just how impressive DeJohnette is across the album, he's a bit of a whirlwind, keeping the beat and working his fills in and around the soloists with great dexterity.
Four stars for me - if you're a Hubbard fan then this album is highly recommended, not just as a step between 'Red Clay' and 'First Light' but as a powerhouse on its own.