This sublime album by an elusive bunch of Scottish Minstrels is one of the best British albums of any decade and a very rare gem. What it is not is "anthemic like U2" and neither does it "compare to Simply Red and Deacon Blue". Let us for the sake of goodwill extend the milk of human kindess and hope that the author of this heinous claptrap was successful in his or her GSCE Music exam since these comparisons are laughable and "Hats" deserves a whole better than these shoddy musical "bedmates". All Blue Nile albums are essentially markers in time and the yawning gaps between their production seems to grow ever longer. Yet the sparsity of their output over the years and a host of great albums cannot hide the fact that "Hats" is the masterpiece.
Mirroring his onetime boss and mentor Miles Davis' own protean output, Herbie Hancock has explored hard bop, soul-jazz, fusion, funk-rock, soundtracks, hip-hop-inflected pop ("Rockit"), and many permutations in between. His early work for Blue Note, though, offers the best entrée for newcomers. Compiled from five of his albums for the label and covering a period from 1962-1968, this fine sampler includes highlights from his debut, Takin' Off ("Watermelon Man"), the classic Maiden Voyage (the title track and "Dolphin Dance"), and the early electric album Speak Like a Child (the title track and "Riot"). Add to this more indelible cuts like "Cantaloupe Island" and "One Finger Snap," not to mention the presence of numerous '60s jazz luminaries (Dexter Gordon, Freddie Hubbard, Thad Jones, Hank Mobley, Billy Higgins, et al.), and you have perfect way to get a taste of some of the best modern jazz committed to wax.