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HERBIE HANCOCK - Thrust cover
4.37 | 39 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1974

Filed under Funk Jazz


A1 Palm Grease 10:34
A2 Actual Proof 9:41
B1 Butterfly 11:18
B2 Spank-A-Lee 7:11

Total Time: 38:50


- Mike Clark /Drums
- Paul Jackson/Electric Bass
- Herbie Hancock /Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes], Clavinet [Hohner D-6], Synthesizer [Arp Odyssey, Arp Soloist, Arp 2600, Arp String]
- Bill Summers /Percussion
- Bennie Maupin /Saxophone [Soprano & Tenor Saxophone], Clarinet [Bass Clarinet], Flute [Alto Flute]

About this release

Columbia – PC 32965 (US)

Recorded at Wally Heider Studios, San Francisco

Thanks to snobb, EZ Money for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Some albums so transcend their genre that to include them with others of their genre almost seems like an insult. Would you say that 'Talking Book' was just another RnB album, or that 'It Takes a Nation of Millions ..' is just another hip-hop disc. Such is the case with Herbie Hancock's Thrust, this is what most would label funk-jazz, but you will not find another funk jazz album like this, not by Herbie, not by anyone. The level of sophisticated syncopation and inventive rhythmic interplay between the musicians on here is just mind boggling. I've been playing fusion for over 30 years and this album still blows me away, how do they do this! Drummer Mike Clark has got to be one of the slickest trickiest drummers out there, and the rest of Herbie's crew seems to relish every twist and turn he throws at them. I'll never forget the first time I heard this album. 'Palm Grease' opens with the expected rock beat boom-pow of kick on 1 and 3, and snare on 2 and 4 and then all of a sudden the kick hits twice and ends up on the and of 1 which throws the snare onto the and of 2 and the and of 4, and then back to the original beat. It may not sound like a big deal now, but at the time I felt my world had been turned upside down and sideways. As difficult as this music may be to execute, this isn't lifeless technical exercises in rhythmic complexity, just the opposite, every tune on here is full of joy and kinetic energy, easily this is one of the liveliest albums I have ever heard.

All on this album is not just poly-rhythms though, as usual with Hancock you also get the best electric piano solos in the business, brilliant mini-orchestrations that feature Herbie's fleet of analog keyboards with Bennie Maupin's woodwinds, and lots of 70s styled 'futuristic' synthesizer effects and solos. The synthesizer was still fairly new to jazz when this album came out, and no one in jazz at that time was orchestrating with electronics the way Hancock was.

You get four tunes on this masterpiece, 'Palm Grease' and 'Actual Proof' fill side one with abstact synth driven post-funk free-form algorithmic constructions. While side two opens with 'Butterfly', one of Herbie's many brilliant laid-back futuristic sophisto-lounge pieces. This is a style that is unique to Hancock, and a style he returns to throughout his career. The album closes with 'Spank-a-Lee', a JBs meets Sly Stone styled RnB funk number that is driven into hyper space by one of Herbie's trademark 'brink of insanity' electric piano solos, and then pushed even further by Bennie Maupin's saxophone which battles furiously against Herbie's heavy synth-horn lines.

This is a great album, all of the musicians are top notch and at the peak of their game, and if you are a fusion musician yourself, this album will have you shaking your head in a state of disbelief, especially on 'Actual Proof' when the musicians come out of the ongoing improvised chaos and play unison lines seemingly at random points in the song, how do they do this!
After anteing up for the high-stakes jazz rock/fusion poker game that was being played in the mid 70s with their impressive "Headhunters" LP, Herbie Hancock and his ultra-talented cohorts proceeded to boldly raise the stakes by releasing this splendid album right on its heels. While the original lineup of the Mahavishnu Orchestra was folding, Weather Report was investigating the spacier, more esoteric angles of the genre and Return To Forever was busy blending hard rock ingredients with jazzed-up spices, Herbie & Co. were intent on stretching the boundaries of funky fusion to its limits. HH is quoted as saying "Rather than work with jazz musicians that could play funk, I worked with funk musicians that could play jazz." Makes sense to me. The result is "Thrust," a fantastic quartet of songs that never fail to entertain and amaze. "Palm Grease" starts things off with drummer Mike Clark laying down a basic pattern before the whole band saunters in one at a time to build the funkhouse brick by brick. Bill Summers' exciting percussion provides a quick break, then the group goes right back to work like skilled carpenters. After a key change Bennie Maupin puts a wah-wah effect on his tenor saxophone while Hancock displays his expertise on the electric piano. The whole piece is more in the vein of "an exploration of the groove" than a virtuoso showcase and it's incredibly cohesive. The synthesized strings that roll in over the finale allow for a psychedelic exit.

"Actual Proof" begins with the funk monster running at a torrid pace underneath a somewhat leisurely alto flute/synth melody line but then evolves into an intense trio of drums, bass and electric piano. The rhythm section of Clark and bassist Paul Jackson is unreal as they sizzle like frying bacon below Herbie's hot electric piano ride and together they play as if they're triplets joined at the hip. This is one fervent throw-down, my friends. Finally Maupin's flute floats in to lighten things up and to keep things from ending in a tragic occurrence of spontaneous combustion.

The aptly named "Butterfly" is a welcome change of pace at this point. It floats like a. well, you know as Bennie's deep (and so fine) bass clarinet creates the beautiful melody that sings over the hypnotic, pulsating beat. He then delivers an exquisite soprano sax ride followed by Hancock's sly Rhodes piano and tasteful synthesizers. Before you realize it, though, the stealthy rhythm section escalates the number into double-time briefly before they all return to the original feel and reprise the soothing melody. It's a remarkable tune and my favorite cut on the album.

"Spank-A-Lee" wakes you up like a rude slap in the face as its furious tempo sets the mood for a prog funkathon that's hotter than Hades. They don't leave anything in the tank on this blistering track as Maupin's tenor saxophone blazes away over the Clark/Jackson inferno roiling below. Herbie and Bill do their best to keep things from flying asunder but you can tell that they're being relentlessly sucked into the cyclone like swimmers caught in a rip tide. Eventually the band eases off the gas to throttle down with some cool accents and kicks before gracefully landing the mother ship softly back on terra firma. This is one roller coaster ride that's not for the elderly or squeamish.

This assemblage of four extended tracks is a primo example of top-notch jazz/rock fusion music. For those who have yet to delve into this sometimes dizzying but exhilarating world (with a heavy dose of funk in this case) I don't hesitate to say that this album and its predecessor would be a wonderful place to begin. These funksters weren't fooling around.

Members reviews

Sean Trane
The logical musical continuity of Head Hunters still featuring The Headhunters (now a group), Thrust comes back with a better (IMHO, although I’m likely to be in a minority) album than HH with a slightly different line up, bringing Mike Clark (a white dude to be found later in Brand X as Collins’ replacement) to replace session drummer Harvey Mason. Whether Thrust came before or after Headhunter’s space funk album, is not clear to me, but I find this one more interesting; not because of the return of Springett on the artwork (actually I find it a little too pretentious), but because it tries to be more accessible and listener-friendly.

Starting the same way HH did, but this time with the drummer instead of bassist Jackson, then having Summers intervening with all kinds of percussion instruments, Hancock is again using his clavinet to simulate the funky guitar. The 10-mins+ Palm Grease is an arrangement of a funk rhythm that Clark and Jackson had found at a concert warm up. Actual Proof is much calmer and not nearly as loud and Hancock borders dissonance in his improvisation, pushed as far as he could by his rhythm section.

The flipside starts on the Maupin/Hancock composition, but it sounds as if they’d encountered Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express on their path. The 11-mins Butterfly is a real joy to listen to especially when Maupin his wide array of wind instruments at the forefront. The closing ultra-funk Spank-A-Lee is another rhythm found by Clark, Jackson and Summers and it’s by far the loudest track on the album

Strangely enough, Thrust climbed to the same #13 spot on the Billboard and sold quite a bit, but it fails to get the recognition of HH, even though it’s probably more listener-friendly.
This is an excelent example of a great, yet not fantastic album.

After recording four-track "Headhunters" LP it seems that Hancock found a formula for successful album - compose a funky groove, add many electronic colorations and play some space solos. Don't get me wrong - it isn't bad! But you have to had brilliant compositions and interesting new ideas.

Unfortunately the "Thrust" LP is opened by a bit dull "Palm Grease". As a big fan of jazz-funk it's quite attractive to me to listen to 10-minutes exotic funk jam, but when I'm listen closer to it, I found there really nothing as interesting as on "Headhunters". It can as well last for 5 or 20 minutes!

Fortunately the second track is a KILLER! "Actual Proof" comes with one of the most inteligent and creative bass lines EVER! This track, in contrast to the first one, successfully cathes the idea I wrote about above. The jazz-funk drive is so gorgeus that Herbie managed to play almost every solos and we don't feel bored with it! Also Maupin turned from harsh sax to a gentle flute.

Third track is "Butterfly". It's good to notice how well it is built. And how well title matches the music. It begins with a sluggish trance theme, that somehow reminds a morning on a glade or a meadow. The music get thicker about 2:00, the rhyhtm is slowly speeding up and Maupin starts with soprano sax solo. After next 2 minutes track becomes more dense, Herbie begin his Fender solos and add some more Arp background and Clavinet about 7:00 what makes this whole Butterfly fly really fast!

Album ends with more funk-jazz oriented "Spank-A-Lee". But the fantastic theme wasn't filled up properly. Although it's full of brilliant, "fat" bass and synthesizer notes, great drums playing and you can listen to it endleslly, it really lacks something really gripping in the middle.

Still, "Thrust" is one of the classic jazz-funk albums that is absolutely worth hearing. However some synth-maniacs can be dissapointed that despite cover with keyboard-spaceship the LP isn't as cosmic and synth-oriented as it could be.

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