HERBIE HANCOCK — Man-Child

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HERBIE HANCOCK - Man-Child cover
4.17 | 19 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1975

Filed under Funk Jazz
By HERBIE HANCOCK

Tracklist

A1 Hang Up Your Hang Ups 7:28
A2 Sun Touch 5:10
A3 The Traitor 9:37
B1 Bubbles 9:01
B2 Steppin' In It 8:41
B3 Heartbeat 5:16

Total Time: 45:16

Line-up/Musicians

- Henry Davis /Bass
- Louis Johnson /Bass
- Paul Jackson /Bass
- Harvey Mason /Drums
- James Gadson /Drums
- Mike Clark /Drums
- David T. Walker /Guitar
- Dewayne McKnight /Guitar
- Wah Wah Watson /Guitar, Guitar [Voice Bag]
- Stevie Wonder /Harmonica
- Bill Summers /Percussion
- Herbie Hancock /Piano, Electric Piano [Rhodes], Clavinet [Hohner D6], Synthesizer [Arp Odyssey], Synthesizer [Pro Soloist], Synthesizer [2600], Synthesizer [String Ensemble], Synthesizer [Oberheim Polyphonic]
- Wayne Shorter /Saxophone [Soprano]
- Bennie Maupin /Saxophone [Soprano], Saxophone [Tenor], Saxophone [Saxello], Clarinet [Bass], Flute [Bass], Flute [Alto]
- Ernie Watts /Saxophone, Flute
- Jim Horn /Saxophone, Flute
- Garnett Brown /Trombone
- Bud Brisbois /Trumpet
- Jay DaVersa /Trumpet
- David Rubinson /Tuba, Trombone [Bass]
- Dick Hyde /Tuba, Trombone [Bass]

About this release

Columbia – PC 33812 (US)

Recorded at Wally Heider Studios, San Francisco; Village Recorders, Los Angeles; Funky Features, San Francisco; and and Crystal Studios, Los Angeles

Thanks to snobb, silent way for the updates

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HERBIE HANCOCK MAN-CHILD reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

dreadpirateroberts
Hancock takes a big step into funk.

And leaves behind some of the jazz. But this is still complex, multilayered funk that, for most of the album, is a real monster. While Hancock augments the Headhunter band with extra musicians and a couple of guests (Stevie Wonder and Wayne Shorter on 'The Traior') the real focus is on the riff-based approach to the compositions, rather than any stand out soloist. Instead of longer soloing over layered compositions that stretch out, it's shorter, compact solos over layered funk rhythms and horn sections.

Guitar is introduced on this album and it changes the sound somewhat, adding a welcome new texture, but hints of that spacier jazz sound linger, especially with the rhodes and synth on 'Sun Touch.'

Overall, the focus here is on funk, with the album split equally between slower funk pieces and uptempo funk workouts that are swimming with great beats and compact solos. In fact, for me it'd be great to have those solos expanded a little - as they would live - but here it's not a huge problem. The sound is quite crisp and is, as already described in better reviews than mine, quite slick. But it's clear and uncluttered in the end, so not much to complain about there.

Not every composition is magic - 'The Traitor' doesn't really live up to the stupendous opener, nor does 'Steppin' in It' but 'Sun Touch' and 'Heartbeat' are right on the money. 'Hand Up Your Hang Ups' however, is a powerhouse that never fails to raise the pulse. It's just so damn funky, it punches out of the speakers with its choppy horns and insistent beat, and even comes with an outro reminiscent of 'Chameleon's' middle section, with its acoustic piano solo.

From song to song this doesn't rate as a masterpiece for me, but it's confident, complex funk, whether on the slow numbers or the fast ones. Headhunter era Herbie Hancock fans who don't have this should pick it up.
js
When I first heard this album back in 75 it struck me as a commercial sell-out. Certainly coming on the heels of the previous hyper abstract jazz avant-garde funk of 'Thrust', 'Man Child' is more slicked up and maybe a little bit discofied, but I'm glad I revisited this gem because it rates right up there with some of Herbie's best. This album is mid-70s ultra-slick and reflects the then growing post-hippie move towards an urban cool ascetic. Gone are the frenetic solos and sparse syncopated textures of 'Thrust', but in their place we get some of Hancock's best electronic/acoustic orchestrations that float on top of sophisticated interlocking funk rhythm patterns. This album moves beyond funk as introduced by Sly Stone and others, and carries the genre into complicated intersecting patterns that recall classic traditional African music and/or modern day minimalism. It's that ultra-smooth sound of this album that turned me off in the past, but I now find to be one of it's main attractions. In a lot of ways this album recalls Herbie's 60s post-Miles work in which he backed his Debussy/lounge piano stylings with a mini orchestra for that ultimate loungecore-jazz meets mid-20th century composers sound. To further their appeal, the more laid back songs on 'Man Child' have that 'modern in any era' sound that would have been perfect for cosmic martinis aboard the 60s version of The Starship Enterprise, or maybe one of the more avant-garde early James Bond flicks.

Along with the three 'slow jams' we also get three up-tempo funk numbers, but this is funk Herbie style. Not as raw or bold as the JBs or Sly, Hancock's funk has a polished intellectual approach that weaves countless instruments together in a dense contrapuntal texture that is damn near impossible to reproduce with the relaxed finesse that this crew has. Although Herbie's playing on here tends to reflect the 'cool' approach of the music, on 'Hearbeat' he unleashes one of his classic aggressive RnB meets McCoy Tyner solos.

Although once suspect as a possible part of the growing disco culture that spawned it, a few decades later, and totally removed from that culture, this album has taken on new life as the perfect combination of Hancock's 60s cool jazz, and his early 70s jazz/funk.

Members reviews

Sean Trane
Of Hancock’s funk era; Man-child is easily their better album, by now the Headhunters (thr group without HH) had recorded their debut album, one f the first space-funk album, and a damn good one at that, too!! While Thrust had lots of moments and was arguably better than HH (the album), MC turns out to be this line-up’s apex and has its most impressive artwork as well (Mwandishi-era excepted of course). With HH now having a keyboard collect ion big enough to make Emerson and Wakeman jealous, he’s nicely seconded by the Summers/Clark/Jackson rhythm trio, one that was envied by many leaders as the complex killer funk rhythms abounded and seemed effortless. Up front Maupin gets help from Wayne Shorter and Earnie Watts, Garnett Browne.

Opening on the futilely-titled Hang up Your Hang Ups, the combo engages in a high-flying funk with strong chorus horn arrangements, and halfway through a thorough rhythm change with HH switching to Fender Rhodes. Sun Touch is a much gentler and suave electric piano led piece and with synth-based layers, but this sounds a bit like as if Max Middleton (J Beck) has gone by and not that much is happening. The album’s centrepiece is Trailor, with its huge bass line and HH’s wild synth use, but the horns are making wonders. an amazing piece of music even if once the groove is installed, it tends to remain in it, sometimes making lengths, but hardly a problem here.

On the flipside, Bubbles is another suave piece of music and the gradual construction makes it the proggiest (Jackson’s bass lines are absolutely fab-u-lous), with a rare guitar solo, Wayne Shorter’s sax coupled with descending guitar lines, the gradual appearance of the electric appearances through the synth layers. Simply astounding. Next to it, Steppin’ In It, sounds exactly like it’s title….. a big turd…. I’m exaggerating of course, as we are now in a huge funky track, but it’s just no that subtle compared with the preceding Bubbles. HH’s electric piano and Jackson’s bass brings this track through nicely although it overstays its welcome by at least three or four minutes, Stevie Wonder’s harmonica not changing this fact one iota. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad, it’s long. The closing Heartbeat is a killer tune where the electric piano can remind Brian Auger’s Oblivion express, except that the musos are so much better here. A repeated one-note bass that give a wild guitar run around and in less than 20 seconds the complex groove is built, they have the guts to repeat this the following minute,

Theoretically this is the end of HH’s HH era, if you count the studio albums only (there is a live coming up), and HH will return to more standard jazz material (I think, not sure), before attacking the dance market with the awful (for me anyway) Rock It. If I must compare the three Mwandishi albums to the three Headhunters albums, I prefer the former, because I’m a fan of all three albums, while in the latter, only the last one (the presently discussed) is really fascinating, the previous two, being good, but no cigar.

Ratings only

  • boredop
  • MoogHead
  • KK58
  • Lock24
  • idlero
  • fusionfan94
  • kogaionon
  • Warthur
  • Rokukai
  • darkshade
  • fido73
  • Drummer
  • POW
  • darkprinceofjazz
  • EduMusic
  • richby

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