Whether or not we’d care to admit it, most of us who write for Slant have subconscious “beats” that we’re first in line to cover. One of us is far more likely to write on U2’s latest than the others, just as there is really only one in line to review any of Madonna’s new albums. It could be said one of my beats is covering pop-culturally irrelevant R&B/funk/jazz albums from 1970s superstars. How else to explain the fact that I find myself in the position of critiquing a Herbie Hancock collection of MOR collaborations arguably produced for distribution (mainly) in Starbucks stores cross-country. (I can only wonder if my beat-writing counterpart at Down Beat Magazine is even going to bother.) Like the Grammy-hogging Ray Charles album it’s willfully patterned after, Possibilities is an anthology of decaffeinated covers in collaboration with capable lite-rock dilettantes, in this case Sting, Annie Lennox, and Carlos Santana. Hancock’s understated work on keys is professional and dignified…and completely usurped of the jaw-dropping pyrotechnics that have sent any number of diverse jams soaring, from the psychedelic, spaced-out freebasing of “Chameleon” to his live-in-concert duets with Chick Corea. (The album actually strongly resembles Corea’s recent Grammy performance with the Foo Fighters, a combination that somehow turned both parties into Phish.) And unlike his other recent collection Gershwin’s World, Possibilities’s selection of tunes comes with little rhyme or reason. (What is up with that menacingly embalmed, ballad version of “I Just Called To Say I Love You”?) It has no cohesive through line, or at least one that doesn’t involve inspiring potential listeners to brew green tea and set their papasan in front of the fireplace and congratulate themselves for being, as Oprah used to say, in connection with their inner spirit. “Inner spirit” and “soul” are not mutually exclusive.
- Release Date
- August 29, 2005
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: