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Herbie Hancock

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Herbie Hancock Sound-System album cover
2.89 | 19 ratings | 2 reviews | 5% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1984

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Hardrock (6:10)
2. Metal Beat (4:56)
3. Karabali (5:17)
4. Junki (5:32)
5. People Are Changing (6:05)
6. Sound-System (5:55)

Total Time 33:55

Bonus track on 1999 remaster:
7. Metal Beat (Extended version) (6:45)

Line-up / Musicians

- Herbie Hancock / piano (3-5), EMU keyboard (1), Clavinet (6), synths (Fairlight CMI, Rhodes Chroma, Memory Moog, Yamaha DX7), co-producer

- Bernard Fowler / vocals (2,3,5,7), vocal arrangements (3,5)
- Nicky Skopelitis / guitar (1,6)
- Henry Kaiser / guitar (1,2,7)
- Wayne Shorter / Lyricon (2,7), soprano sax (3)
- Toshinori Kondo / speaker voice (2,7), trumpet (6)
- Bill Laswell / bass (1,4,6), DMX electronic drums (1,2,4,6), tapes (1,4), electronics (2), co-producer
- Anton Fier / Simmons drums (1,2,6,7), sound plates, cuica, cymbal, gong, wood block, timpani, Synare electronic drums (5,6)
- Daniel PoncÚ / bata (1,3), shekere & bells (3)
- Foday Musa Suso / kora, balaphone, kalimba, talking drum, dusunguni, guitar (6)
- Aiyb Dieng / talking drum, ghatam, bells, don don
- Hamid Drake / cymbals (3,6)
- Will Alexander / Fairlight programming (1-3,6,7)
- Rob Stevens / programming (1,4)
- D.St. / turntables (1,2,6,7)

Releases information

Artwork: David Em

LP Columbia ‎- FC 39478 (1984, US)

CD CBS ‎- CK 39478 (1984, US)
CD Columbia ‎- 471236 2 (1992, Europe) Remastered (?)
CD Columbia ‎- CK 65961 (1999, Europe) Remastered by Mark Wilder with a bonus track

Thanks to clarke2001 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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HERBIE HANCOCK Sound-System ratings distribution

(19 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(5%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(16%)
Good, but non-essential (37%)
Collectors/fans only (26%)
Poor. Only for completionists (16%)

HERBIE HANCOCK Sound-System reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Money
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Sound System was the follow-up to Herbie's ground-breaking Grammy award winning album Future Shock, an album that had put him back in the limelight with it's imaginative mix of early 80s Hip Hop, Techno and World Beat. Hip Hop was a far different thing in the early 80s up to the early 90s, positive, vibrant and polyrhythmic, it brought new life to many artists that would seek it's influence. On Sound System Herbie accents the African influence that was hinted at on Future Shock by featuring kora virtuoso Foday Musa Suso who adds beautifully hypnotic melodies to three of this albums six tracks. The three tracks that feature Suso are wonderfully joyous celebrations of rhythm and melody that recall a nostalgic positive vibe that early Hip Hop brought to many urban neighborhoods in the states in the early to mid 80s. I saw Hancock at an outdoor concert during this time and he had a separate area near the stage set aside for young break dancers to come out of the crowd and show off their creative but amateur skills. The whole concert had a wonderful improvisatory carnival type feel to it.

The other three songs on this album include: Hard Rock, a funky hip hop number that mixes Herbie's techno verses with a Van Halen styled guitar chorus played by avant-rocker Henry Kaiser. Karaboli, a world beat jazz number that features Wayne Shorter on soprano sax, and People are Changing, a socially conscious RnB song with a killer groove that features Bernard Fowler on vocals. Fowler was the progressive soul singer of choice in the early 80s and often worked with creative musicians and producers such as Bill Laswell and Adrian Sherwood.

This album has a very 80s sound to it, a virtual death sentence in many cases, but not this time. I still enjoy this album as much now as I did back then. Despite it's trendy sound, Sound System still sounds fresh and creative, and reminds me of a very positive time in music in general.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Sound -System is logical next step after Future Shock album. Using the very same techno-pop electronic rhythms and song structures, Hancock added at least two new things, which are doing this album more listenable.

First, he made the sound a bit heavier, even using rock elements in some places. The opening song Hardrock (which isn't hard rock or even rock at all for sure) is Rockit analogue with much heavier sound and even heavy metal guitar line added.

Second, he incorporated in his music strong African element with the addition of the Gambian multi-instrumentalist Foday Musa Suso on half of the tracks. These tracks, with quite attractive world fusion sound, less electronic effects and even more jazzy in places, are most interesting part of that album.

By the way, Hancock continued collaboration with Foday Musa Suso and released some more albums with him.

Generally, better than Hancock's disco-funk era albums, still not return to form. But could be enjoyable, especially if you are not afraid of electronics sound and like world fusion at the same time.

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