Gil Scott-Heron

It’s been a bit quiet around here in the last week or so as I’ve been a little busy with work & school holidays. I meant to post this after the sad exit of Gil Scott-Heron at the end of May.

I only really found him about three or four years ago (probably because someone described him as a black Bob Dylan which is silly as I think Bob may secretly be black) but have enjoyed much of his work since then. I can offer two things here which should be interesting if you already know the mans work and would be a good introduction if you don’t.

The first is a documentary from the lovely BBC in 1996. It’s about an hour over all and in four parts, all linked for your ease & pleasure. I believe this was made by Don Letts.

If you found that interestings then have a listen to this. This is an excellent un released live show that has a great band and has Gil in absolutely top verbal form. I forget where this came from but here is the text from the torrent. The original poster was obviously very impressed!

Gil Scott-Heron – The Bottom Line, New York 1977

01. New Deal – 10:19
02. Gumbai – 5:05
03. Intro to Race Track In France – 1:22
04. Race Track In France – 8:06
05. Band Intros ~ Lead in to 95 South – 2:45
06. 95 South – 4:49
07. Intro to Hello Sunday, Hello Road – 1:02
08. Hello Sunday, Hello Road – 3:45
09. Intro to It’s Your World – 0:38
10. It’s Your World – 6:59
11. Home Is Where The Hatred Is – 15:29
12. Almost Lost Detroit – 5:59
13. Intro to Vildgolia – 1:36
14. Vildgolia (Deaf, Dumb & Blind) – 12:24
15. Winter In America – 6:54
16. Under The Hammer – 5:12
17. The Bottle – 15:07
18. Intro to Johannesburg – 0:53
19. Johannesburg – 5:37

MUSICIANS

Gil Scott-Heron – electric piano, vocals
Brian Jackson – piano, electric piano, clavinet, synths, flute, vocals
Allan Barnes – flute, tenor sax, synthesizer
Reggie Brisbane – percussion, drums
Siggie Dillard – bass
Tony Duncanson – timbales, percussion, djembe
Delbert Taylor – trumpet, electric piano (on “95 South” & “Home Is Where the Hatred Is”)
Barnett Williams – djembe, congas

“One of the most important progenitors of rap music, Gil Scott-Heron’s aggressive, no-nonsense street poetry inspired a legion of intelligent rappers…

Gil Scott-Heron – genius, activist, brilliant poet, jazz-funk pioneer, rap pioneer, possessed of a beautiful spoken and singing voice, possessed of both a searing intelligence and a sense of humour. The guy’s had his troubles with drugs in recent years, and we can only hope he gets it together and keeps going, because the world needs more people like him. And in combination with Brian Jackson he’s just unbeatable. Gil for President! Brian for VP (with his hair in a bun)!

Some unreleased live recordings sound like they’ve been recorded from the venue’s bathroom, then there are the quality ones like this one. This fantastic, powerhouse two hour performance was recorded straight from mixing desk at the Bottom Line club into a PCM, an early digital recorder, then transferred to WAV and then FLAC. It sounds great, and is now my favourite live Gil Scott-Heron album. It just needed a cover, so I made one.

This performance comes a year after the mostly-live album “It’s Your World” and the week before the release of “Bridges”. It’s comprised mostly of tracks from the latter, with some favourites and one-offs added. These are not just renditions of album tracks – the Midnight Band is steaming, with long percussion sections and improvisation. So even if you’ve got all of these tracks, and all of his live albums, you really, really need this.

Gil starts with a ten minute monologue that turns into the poem “New Deal”. He starts seemingly casually talking about the state of the world, and builds into a scathing media commentary, an africanist world perspective and an account of a black hostage taker in Cleveland whose demands were “All white folks leave Earth!”. The starker and darker his commentary becomes, the more humour he brings in … It’s extraordinary to hear his summation of “change” at the end of the monologue and to realise the resonance of his discourse on contemporary thought and politics.

This band is HOT – up to three people on rhodes with Brian Jackson at the forefront – check the fifteen minutes of keyboard and brass workouts on “Home is Where the Hatred Is” – three or more people on percussion under the guidance of Barnett Williams, latin-tinged trumpet solos from Delbert Taylor, great sax work from Allan Barnes …”

A work of genius like all of the artists played here. I hope it finds happy ears. If you like it, go here and buy an album or two….

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2 Comments

Filed under Comment, Music, Video

2 responses to “Gil Scott-Heron

  1. Stacey Ann Ellis

    Thank you so much for posting this on Gil Scott Heron. Not enough can be said of this wonderful musician and his contribution to society.

  2. Stacey. Thanks for dropping by. Spread the ‘Gil’ word. The revolution may not be televised but it may well be tweeted.

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