Herbie Hancock Future Shock (Columbia) Herbie HancockSound-System (Columbia), and Herbie Hancock Perfect Machine (Columbia)


Herbie Hancock

Future Shock (Columbia)

Herbie Hancock

Sound-System (Columbia)

Herbie Hancock

Perfect Machine (Columbia)

An enormously gifted and creative musician, Herbie Hancock has brought off just about everything he's attempted in the numerous phases of his 40-year career. At the height of his popularity in the Seventies and Eighties, when he began these popular, and in some ways innovative, funk recordings for Columbia, Hancock was motivated to some extent by commercial ambitions. Nevertheless, the results are impressive. The liner notes for this trio of like-minded LPs, released 1983, 1984, and 1989 respectively, contain an interview with Hancock's co-producer Bill Laswell, and when asked how enthusiastic the jazz pianist was about these sessions, the studio visionary sums up all three recordings succinctly: "I know [Future Shock] was over his head [technologically] and that he didn't know what we were doing. With the initial success of the single ["Rockit"], then he became obviously attracted to his own success. And then Sound System sort of happened quickly, bringing in a lot of people. He was much more involved in it. I think the last record [Perfect Machine] was less involved -- it involved something a bit more technical." Laswell, it seems, was more into these techno-R&B albums than Hancock, who was headed in this direction after leaving Miles Davis, and the bassist's heavy interest in engineering and technology are readily apparent. Produced with state-of-the-art electronic instruments and recording gear, these three albums became quite influential, and the unusual textures and tight, hard-driving rhythm section work are impressive. Solo instrumental work is in short supply, although Wayne Shorter's work on "Kara Bali" is a Sound-System high point, with Dwight Jackson and Bernard Fowler contributing laudable vocals. By and large, the success of these albums stems from a collective effort. It's no surprise that the best of them, Sound-System, is the one Hancock worked on the most. (Herbie Hancock plays the One World Theatre May 26 & 27.)

(Future Shock) ****

(Sound-System) ****

(Perfect Machine) ****

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Review: Alex Coke & Carl Michel Sextet, <i>EMERGENCE</i>
Review: Alex Coke & Carl Michel Sextet, EMERGENCE
EMERGENCE (Record Review)

Michael Toland, May 12, 2023

Fall Platters
Jeff Lofton
Jericho (Record Review)

Michael Toland, Nov. 29, 2019

More by Harvey Pekar
Hey, Emily
Hey, Emily

Aug. 8, 2008

Better Git It in Your Soul
Better Git It in Your Soul
Charles Mingus Among Us

June 16, 2006

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle