Herbie Hancock has successfully reinvented himself throughout his 50 year career. In 1973, he produced this legendary jazz/funk fusion album that, at the time, was the best-selling jazz record in history (now I think Kind Of Blue holds that honor). If it sounds like a jazz pianist spent a lot of time listening to Stevie Wonder and Sly Stone wanted to play something along those lines, that's pretty close to what happened. Hancock had already begun to move toward synthesizers while playing with his previous sextet, but here he played all keyboards including, instead of having a guitar, my beloved Hohner Clavinet.
This is a highly revered work. It was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, where it was called a "seminal jazz-funk masterpiece." At one point in the life of the ever-changing list, Head Hunters was ranked number 498 in the book version of Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The Library of Congress added it to the National Recording Registry in 2007 and it was enshrined in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2009.
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #13
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #2
Tracks: Only four tracks and they're all good, but it's hard to beat the one-two punch of side one: Chameleon followed by a funky reworking of his 1962 piece, Watermelon Man. Those 2 tracks have sampled more than ten times by artists such as 2Pac, George Michael, LL Cool J, Madonna, and Snoop.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: I don't remember when I got this particular copy of this CD, but as a musician, I've played Chameleon and Watermelon Man more times than I can count.
Previously revisited for the blog:
The Best of Herbie Hancock: The Blue Note Years (1988)