Great was my surprise lately when I heard Herbie Hancock’s album Directstep (1978) for the first time. In the second half of the seventies, Hancock was not only touring with V.S.O.P., essentially the fabulous Miles Davis Quintet from ’64-’69 (Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on bass, Tony Williams on drums and Wayne Shorter on saxophone) with Freddie Hubbard instead of Miles on trumpet. In the same period, Hancock also released a very beautiful duet album with Chick Corea, and experimented with pop, funk and disco on albums such as this Sunlight (1978) and Mr. Hands (1982). Directstep is such a pop-jazz crossover album. It was originally only released in Japan and was one of the first albums to be released on CD. For this album, Hancock re-recorded the track I Thought It Was You from Sunlight, turning its sound even more in an electronic direction than on the first recording.
Impossible not to think of Daft Punk’s The Game of Love from Random Access Memories (2013):
It’s not only the use of the vocoder that creates an echo of Hancock. Rhythm, bass, melody, it all contains clear echoes from Hancock – too close to be pure luck. Even the part of Daft Punk’s text “and it was you” sounds almost like Hancock’s line “I thought it was you”.
Actually, it’s no surprise, since Random Access Memories features many echoes from that time period, becoming very explicit in the track Giorgio by Moroder, featuring Giorgio Moroder who made extensive use of the vocoder on the albums Einzelganger (’75) and From Here to Eternity (’77).
But in the case of The Game of Love, Daft Punk should have credited Hancock too, or change the title of the track into The Game of Herbie, or Herbie by Daft Punk.
ps: Too nice to withold: Hancock continued to play games, as can be heard in the eighties hit Rockit, according to wikipedia the first popsingle that featured scratching.