Mr. Hands is the thirtieth album by Herbie Hancock. It features Jaco Pastorius on the track “4 A.M.,” plus an all-synthesizer track, “Textures,” performed entirely by Hancock. “Shiftless Shuffle” (originally recorded for the Japan-only album Directstep) features all five members of The Headhunters quintet that first appeared on the 1973 album Head Hunters, including the quintet’s original drummer Harvey Mason. This album was the first on which Hancock used a computer, this time an Apple II. He would continue his relationship with Apple Computer for many years.
An overlooked album when it was released, this would be the last outing of “straight” electric jazz from Hancock for some time. Later albums focused more on his R&B influences (Wikipedia, https://goo.gl/sTSpxw).
AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell:
Herbie Hancock’s lackluster string of electric albums around this period was enhanced by this one shining exception: an incorrigibly eclectic record that flits freely all over the spectrum. Using several different rhythm sections, Herbie Hancock is much more the imaginative hands-on player than at any time since the prime Headhunters period, overdubbing lots of parts from his ever-growing collection of keyboards. He has regained a good deal of his ability to ride in the groove. “Calypso” finds him playing synthesized steel drums and interacting with customary complexity and ebullience with V.S.O.P. mates Tony Williams and Ron Carter. Disco rears its head, but inventively this time on “Just Around the Corner,” and in league with Jaco Pastorius’ vibrating, interlacing bass, Hancock gets off some good, updated jazz-funk on “Spiraling Prism” and “4 AM.” There is even a reunion of the original Headhunters on a rhythmically tangled remake of “Shiftless Shuffle”; drummer Harvey Mason sounds like a rhythm machine gone bonkers. Easily the outstanding track – and one of Hancock’s most haunting meditations – is “Textures,” where he plays all of the instruments himself. This would be the last outcropping of electronic delicacy from Hancock for some time, and it was mostly – and unjustly – overlooked when it came out (https://goo.gl/G6xtRP).
All songs composed by Herbie Hancock.
Herbie Hancock – synthesizer, acoustic piano, keyboards, vocals (through vocoder), clavinet, Minimoog, ARP 2600, Apple II, Linn LM-1 drum computer
Bennie Maupin – tenor saxophone (5)
Wah Wah Watson – guitar (3)
Byron Miller (1), Ron Carter (2), Freddie Washington (3), Jaco Pastorius (4), Paul Jackson (5) – bass
Leon Chancler (1), Tony Williams (2), Alphonse Mouzon (3), Harvey Mason (4-5) – drums
Bill Summers (1, 4-5), Sheila Escovedo (2-3) – percussion
Released: September 1980
Studio The Automatt, Filmways/Heider, The Village Recorder
Producer: Herbie Hancock, David Rubinson