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HERBIE HANCOCK - Mr. Hands cover
4.13 | 15 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1980

Filed under Funk Jazz


A1 Spiraling Prism 6:41
A2 Calypso 6:41
A3 Just Around The Corner 7:33
B1 4 AM 5:20
B2 Shiftless Shuffle 7:06
B3 Textures 6:36

Total Time: 39:59


Keyboards [Emu Polyphonic Keyboard, Clavitar], Synthesizer [Waves Minimoog, Minimoog, Prophet 5, Oberheim 8 Voice, Yamaha Cs-80, Arp 2600], Clavinet [Hohner], Electric Piano [Rhodes 88 Suitcase Piano], Vocoder [Sennheiser], Synthesizer [Linn-moffett Drum Synthesizer], Computer [Modified Apple Ii Plus Microcomputer], Piano – Herbie Hancock
Percussion – Bill Summers (tracks: A1, B1, B2),Sheila Escovedo (tracks A2,A3)
Bass – Byron Miller (track A1),Ron Carter(track A2),Freddie Washington (track A3),Jaco Pastorius(track B1), Paul Jackson(track B2)
Drums – Leon "Ndugu" Chancler (track A1),Tony Williams(track A2),Alphonse Mouzon (track A3),Harvey Mason(tracks B1,B2)
Guitar – Wah Wah Watson (track A3)
Tenor Saxophone – Bennie Maupin (track B2)

About this release

Columbia JC 36578 (USA)

Recorded and mixed at The Automatt, San Francisco; except "Shiftless Shuffle" recorded at Filmways/Heider Recording, San Francisco, and "Just Around The Corner" recorded at The Village Recorder, Los Angeles

Thanks to snobb, darkshade, js for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

On ‘Mr Hands’ Hancock blends a mix of the spacey sounds first heard on ‘Head Hunters’ with the more compact funk and jazz he showcased on ‘Man Child.’ Flash to 1980 and here his forward-looking production has blended ‘modern’ sounds with a more familiar funk and jazz sound, more than ably assisted by a revolving cast that features Tony Williams, Ron Carter and Alphonse Mouzon among others – even, on Shiftless Shuffle, a reunion of the original ‘Head Hunters’ line-up.

Overall it’s a pretty damn enjoyable album, one which seems to be overlooked in his canon sometimes (and that’s no small list to look through). It sounds like the performers are having fun and there’s a driving feel to much of the playing too, something which is quite welcome, put this album on and you’ll feel good too – start with Just Around the Corner and see. While no single player dominates, in Shiftless Shuffle where the Head Hunters band is reunited, Mason especially stands out. He’s handy indeed. On this song especially, a classic jazz funk fusion sound is clear and it reminds me just how much Herbie Hancock and his band pioneered for the genre.

In fact, while there’s enough of a laid back feel to the music to contrast the more upbeat pieces, such as the opener and especially the ‘textured’ 4 am, the focus overall remains on a funky fusion where Hancock’s variety of electric keys keep things interesting, making for a fine contrast to his solos, which are delivered with some aggression. Worth a look for fans of the genre, and damn near essential for Hancock fans.
It may be hard to believe that there was at least one good jazz fusion record released in 1980, but here it is. Like the music of many of the great fusion stars of the late 60s and early 70s, Herbie's music had been sliding downhill throughout the late 70s, becoming increasingly commercial and pointless as he slid from creative jazz-funk into dated disco fluff. Then out of nowhere in 1980, when many other early 70s icons had hit a creative rock bottom, Herbie came out swinging with one of his best and creative jazz funk records in years. This album clearly draws on Herbie's early 70s output, but he modernizes things just a bit so that he isn't just re-treading the same old ground. The best track on the album, 'Shiftless Shuffle', features Herbie's original 1973 Headhunters as they play blistering ultra polyrhythmic jazz funk in a style that only they can play. The song 'Just Around the Corner' is more in Hancock's mid 70s funk style, possibly a slightly more commercial style, but the music is still open enough for Herbie and the other soloists to really go off. Most of the rest of the album features Hancock's mid 70s futuristic space lounge jazz, which he updates with a little bit of 80s technology. The back of the album proudly lists a Modified Apple II microcomputer as one of it's instruments, we were certainly into our technology during the dawning of the 'new wave' decade.

Herbie enlists an all star cast on this album, including Jaco Pastorius on one cut who seems to have a real intuitive connection with our star pianist. Everybody seems to be having a great time shaking off their disco shackles and they all easily ignore the insecurity that plagued so many older creative geniuses as the new decade put pressure on them to change. Herbie himself plays with a percussive aggression and mature authority that hadn't been heard from him in a long long time.

Members reviews

If I will have to take only 10 music albums on an uninhabited island, one of them would be definitely "Mr. Hands".

This album consist of six tracks and each is a small masterpiece. It's amazing if you will have a look in Hancock's previous records like avarage disco albums "Feets Don't Fail Me Now" and "Monster" or pure acoustic "The Piano" with some jazz standars. It seems that beside those commercial albums (or just on-the-wave of the disco era) Hancock still have some great thoughts of continuing his jazz-funk fusion records.

The album starts with a mind blowing "Spiraling Prism". It's hard for me to even discribe this track. The gentle flow of a bass and very delicate keyboard colorations is like flying in the sky... or watching the dawn through a giant window - and then around 2:20 you will hear how this feeling come to climax and your ears will explode with musical delight like sky fulfills with color's when sun appears. The track, like "Butterfly" from "Thrust", will get thicker and thicker and will give more pleasure with every minute. Just pay some attention, instead of listening to it as a background.

"Calypso" was recorded in trio with Tony Williams and Ron Carter from "Miles times". Fantastic exotic double-bass line is filled with ferious and florid (but not loud!) Williams drums, Hancock's beautiful piano solo and synthesizer that sounds like steel-drum.

"Just Around the Corner" is one of the best jazz-funk piece ever recorded! Slap bass line, provided by Freddie Washington (see "Forget Me Nots" by Patrice Rushen!) is far from a tech-show. It's a true, gripping funky background that changes in fantastic way when Herbie is going higher and higher. And second thing is Herbie of course. He is playing sharp, fusion-like synthesizer and soft Fender Rhodes. Do you fill lack of keyboards on "Sunlight"? Than listen to this!

Piece called "4 AM" is another gem. One more time - the bass. This time it's Jaco Pastorius who is really flying there. This is the reason why everybody loves this guy so much. He doesn't repeat the theme, he is playing something like a constant solo. Amazing! And one more time - the keyboards. This time Hancock turns into Jan Hammer's-like sound of electric guitar that adds a lot of flavour in this wonderful "constant-jam" tune. And again he plays beautiful solos on Fender.

On "Shiftless Shuffle" (which he played for the first time a year before on Japan-only "Direcstep" LP) we have a Headhunters meeting. The original jazzfunk-crew drives again. However it doesn't remind those long funky-jams from middle of 70's, it's much more jazz in a funky skin.

The LP ends with a real bliss. "Textures" is one of the most wonderful track I've ever heard! Despite it's the simplest track of whole album, it takes you 500 miles high and makes you don't want to come back to the Earth.

When somebody is a jazz-funk lover, it's really hard to unappreciate this great album. It's also good to notice that album is one of those that very clearly ends the glorious 70's. The next Herbie's LP - Magic Windows - will be a step into new style and all those electronic disco-funk things.

Ratings only

  • Fant0mas
  • piccolomini
  • MoogHead
  • Unitron
  • KK58
  • Lock24
  • idlero
  • Rokukai
  • darkshade
  • darkprinceofjazz
  • zorn1
  • richby

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