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Herbie Hancock - Blow-Up (OST) CD (album) cover


Herbie Hancock


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.03 | 17 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars What a wonderful surprise it was to read my colleague Sean Trane's insightful and informative review of this hidden gem. (I'm just happy that someone else treasures this soundtrack as much as I do. The man obviously has good taste!) "Blow Up" demonstrates as well as any other why a wide variety of music is essential to this website in that it exposes unsuspecting listeners to other kinds of prog music. As a teenager starving for hard-as-nails rock & roll I bought this LP because the Yardbirds had a smash- mouth song included, but Herbie Hancock's high-quality instrumentals that surrounded it went a long way in opening my head up to what was happening in the world of mid-60s jazz/rock. It's a record so amiable that for years I would put this disc on the turntable and let it be the background score for whatever activity I was doing around the house.

The liner notes indicate that director Michaelangelo Antonioni, being an avid jazz fan, hand-picked Herbie to compose/assemble the music for his ground-breaking film. Producer Carlo Ponti gave Mr. Hancock a generous budget and free reign to employ whatever musicians he wanted. I'm thinking Herbie was ecstatic to get the opportunity to create his music without having to worry about what the label bigwigs thought. There's no listing of the players involved but you can be sure that he brought in the best he could gather so no telling what big names contributed their skills to this project. The result is a delicious gumbo of jazz styles that have a strong current of relaxed ease running through them from start to finish.

"Main Title - 'Blow Up'" is a tricky little cut. It starts out dated and corny like something out of an Austin Powers flick, then suddenly turns on a dime and becomes a light jazzy deal with a cool trumpet. "Verushka, Pt. 1" is a nondescript bluesy shuffle but Pt. 2, while continuing the same basic feel, is more in the traditional jazz vein with a fine sax ride. Things get much more avant garde on "The Naked Camera" as the muted trumpet maneuvering around the brash saxophone is a treat to hear. "Bring Down the Birds" is nothing more than 60s go-go shtick but "Jane's Theme" features sultry jazz guitar, bass and subdued Hammond organ and it's smooth as new silk.

"Stroll On" is a killer track and highly significant in its own right. I get the feeling that the Yardbirds got the same memo as Herbie did in that they were instructed to do as they pleased as long as they delivered an in-your-face rave-up that was over-the-top outrageous and feedback-laden heavy to the extreme. If there's such a thing as proto-metal then this is the poster child for it and, in 1966, THIS was the brand of wild abandon we young rebels were yearning to hear. Simply rewriting the words to "Train Kept a' Rollin'" so they could receive royalties, this song may be the only studio recording by that terrific band that has both Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck in the line-up and you'll be hard pressed to find anything as balls-to-the-wall in the history of rock. No thin, tinny fuzz-tone effects were allowed, either. Both guitarists cranked their amps to the max, unleashed a furious duel that few (if any) have ever equaled and tacked on a throw-down finale that'll rip your head clean off. It resides permanently in my top five of pure, unadulterated rock & roll numbers and that's saying a lot.

Hancock takes over once more and impresses with his Jimmy Smith-styled Hammond organisms on "The Thief," a song that also features a slinky upright bass solo. "The Kiss" is a moody, laid-back ditty where the guitar and saxophone create a soothing aura to bathe in, followed by "Curiosity," a Miles Davis-ish horn ensemble thriller. "Thomas Studies Photos" has a conga-led groove with densely- packed horns blaring and "The Bed" is an acoustic piano/bass/drums piece that makes you feel like you're sitting in a smoky lounge. "End Title" is a fast-paced jazz orchestra work that's over in less than a minute.

Too many of these cuts are way, way too brief in duration and I'd love to hear the longer studio out- takes that these snippets were culled from. But that's just wishful thinking. "Blow Up" is a great sampling of the spirit of musical freedom that was starting to blossom in the mid-sixties for two reasons. The jazz included is a superb blend of old and new school and the rip-roarin' tune from the Yardbirds was one of the first to truly blow the roof off the sucker. This is one of those vinyl platters that brings back nothing but good memories for me. 3.4 stars.

Chicapah | 3/5 |


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