1/  Rockit                                     (Hancock,Laswell,Beinhorn)    5.22
  2/  Future Shock                               (Curtis Mayfield)             8.02
  3/  TFS                                        (Hancock,Laswell,Beinhorn)    5.15
  4/  Earth Beat                                 (Hancock,Laswell,Beinhorn)    5.10
  5/  Autodrive                                  (Hancock,Laswell,Beinhorn)    6.25
  6/  Rough                                      (Hancock,Laswell,Beinhorn)    6.57
  7/  Rockit (Mega Mix)                          (HH,BL,MB,BM,CM,Mason,Jackson)6.18

          Basic tracks recorded at OAO Studios, Brooklyn, New York
          New York overdubs recorded at RPM Studios, New York
          Keyboard overdubs and additional recording at Garage Sale Recording, LA
          Produced by Material and Herbie Hancock
          Track 7 remix produced by D.ST
          Associate Producer : Tony Meilandt
          Reissue (1999) produced by Bob Belden
Herbie Hancock: Fairlight CMI (1,4,6), Rhodes Chroma (1,3,5), Sennheiser Vocoder (1), clavitar (1), Dr. Click Rhythm Controller (1,3,4), E-mu 4060 digital keyboard (1), Mini-Moog (1,5), Memory Moog (2), piano (3,5), emulator (3,6), Yamaha GS-1 (4,5), Yamaha CE-20 (4), alphaSyntauri (6); Bill Laswell: bass; Michael Beinhorn: DMX (1,3,4,5), synare (1,3,4,5), Mini-Moog programming (1,5), Prophet-5 (2,3,6), Pro I (2), Memory Moog programming (2,3,4), shortwave (5); Grand Mixer D.ST.: turntables (1,4,6), voice (6), background vocals (6); Daniel Ponce (1,4): bata; Dwight Jackson Jr. (2): lead vocal; Bernard Fowler (2,6): background vocals; Pete Cosey (2): guitar; Sly Dunbar: drums (2,6), bongos (2); Lamar Wright (6): lead vocal; Roger Trilling and Nicky Skopelitis (6): background vocals.

          1983 - CBS/Columbia (USA), FC 38814 (Vinyl)
          1983 - CBS/Sony (Japan), 25AP 2672 (Vinyl)
          1983 - CBS (UK), CBS 25540 (Vinyl)
          1983 - Columbia/Sony (USA), CK 38814 (CD)
          1983 - CBS/Sony (Japan), 35DP 82 (CD)
          1992 - Columbia (USA), 471237-2 (CD)
          1998 - Sony (Japan), SRCS 9508 (CD)
          1999 - Columbia/Legacy/Sony (USA), CK 65962 (CD)
          2007 - Sony (Japan), SICP 10074 (SACD
Note: The 1999 reissue contains an interview with Bill Laswell about the album.
Note: The 1999 and 2007 releases are the only that contain track 7.


Sharps & Flats

Herbie Hancock's "Future Shock" annoyed the critics and offended the purists in 1983, but the new reissue just sounds like a Bill Laswell record that spawned an unfortunate series of fusion projects.

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By Geoff Edgers

As his 60th birthday approaches, Herbie Hancock remains one of a handful of living, innovating jazz giants. His Blue Note catalog from the '60s is overshadowed only by his work in the Miles Davis Quintet with Tony Williams, Ron Carter and Wayne Shorter. His recent albums -- the duets with Shorter on "1+1" (1997) and the all-star gathering on "Gershwin's World" (1998) -- show that he's still capable of stretching the music as a serious player.

Which is why there couldn't be a better time to revisit "Future Shock," the album that annoyed critics and purists alike upon release in 1983. The record set off a subsequent series of funky, experimental Hancock projects, most of which are being reissued as well. "Future Shock" also produced a fluky, random pop hit, "Rockit." The turntable-scratching, "Peter Gunn" meets P-Funk instrumental put the jazzman on MTV with a troupe of jerky, robotic video stars.

"Future Shock" offered another dimension of Hancock's personality: the risk-taker who wants to have fun, even if it meant slipping into the background. His playing here is so understated that he could have released the record under another name. If he had to give up credit, he could have ceded it to Bill Laswell, the cheese-funk savant producer responsible for displacing Hancock's nimble fingers and harmonic signatures on "Future Shock" with a weirdo mix of old-school hip-hop and fusion funk.

At the time, Laswell was just developing a reputation in the Downtown New York scene, which would lead to production credits on hundreds of albums over the next decade. More a conductor than a chameleon, he has always imposed his sound on anyone he's produced, whether it's Yoko Ono, Mick Jagger or Bernie Worrell. And that's what he did on "Future Shock," playing bass and co-producing under the moniker of his group, Material.

Except for the dancing piano work on "Autodrive," it's easy to forget that Hancock was along for the ride. Each song has an electric drumbeat, synthesizer and fat bass line. The band -- reggae drummer Sly Dunbar, Grand Mixer D.S.T., former Miles Davis guitarist Pete Cosey, percussionist Daniel Ponce and Material's keyboardist, Michael Beinhorn -- is the star.

The music is jam-based and electric. But the characteristically Laswellian trippiness is also the album's main shortcoming. The songs swim by too quickly, the wordless, synthesized funk turned into background music -- or into the soundtrack to a "Miami Vice" episode. That said, "Rockit" is a great song. There's the unmistakable scratch chorus, Laswell's swimming bass line and Ponce's bongos playing off Hancock's basic melody. But it's easy to start daydreaming during the police chase of "TFS," or during the hockey organ jam on "Rough."

The success of "Future Shock" most likely spawned the Laswell-produced follow-ups included in Legacy's latest Hancock reissues. While "Sound System" (1984) does have its moments -- the six-minute rehash of "Rockit" called "Hardrock" is not one of them -- "Perfect Machine" (1988) unwittingly recalls the scene in "Revenge of the Nerds" when Booger and the boys play their big jock-thrashing concert. It's funny on a Comedy Channel rerun, but no one needs the soundtrack.

Hancock should have stopped with "Future Shock." He made his point, embracing funk and hip-hop by letting the players take over. He also let the jazz purists know that he could stay true to his music and mess with other styles. If "Future Shock" fell short of the more perfect jazz-rap fusion that would hit the charts in the early '90s -- notably Us3's sampling of one of Hancock's Blue Note riffs for "Cantaloop" -- it at least showed that every old school has a few classes in common.

Geoff Edgers Feb. 10, 2000 (courtesy of the Salon website)


Hancock hooked up with high-concept producer/bassist Bill Laswell and keyboardist Mike Beinhorn, and they incorporated hip hop scratching and attitude into Hancock's electronic fusion sound. The result was the hugely influential "Rockit!" which was the first example of scratching to be played on many rap-phobic radio stations, and the unofficial anthem of the breakdancing craze. The single is the best thing about the record, though: it's padded out with lengthy explorations of a single riff and a small number of tonal effects ("TFS," "Earth Beat"), and the title track is dull fake R&B with unmemorable lyrics and vocals and bizarre, incompetent-sounding lead guitar by Davis alumnus Pete Cosey. "Autodrive" is fun, though, with Herbie playing some terrific real piano. Guest appearances by reggae great Sly Dunbar and Latin percussion virtuoso Daniel Ponce.

3 stars out of 5

David Bertrand Wilson (courtesy of the Wilson and Alroy’s Record Reviews website)