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Gil Scott-Heron: The Revolution Begins

Gil Scott-Heron:  The Revolution Begins cover

The three albums Gil Scott-Heron recorded for Bob Thiele’s Flying Dutchman label are some of the most important in the history of black music. They show a multi-talented artist reaching maturity with his first recorded efforts. ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ transcended its place as an album track to become an aphorism, a slogan on a T-shirt, omnipresent shorthand for alternative culture. Over the years these recordings have been treated in a haphazard way, reissued in cheaply packaged collections that used edited versions of some of the most important tracks. “The Revolution Begins” gathers together every piece of music released by Gil on Flying Dutchman, including a track recorded with Bernard “Pretty” Purdie which has never been previously reissued. We have gone back to the original master tapes, bringing you sound that’s better than you’ll have ever heard and new clarity to Gil’s words and the musical performances. Access to those tapes has also enabled us to assemble an alternate version of Gil’s third album, “Free Will”.

Gil emerged in 1970 as the author of a novel, The Vulture, and a small book of poetry titled Small Talk at 125th and Lenox. Through a contact at his publishing company, he was introduced to producer Bob Thiele, who couldn’t afford to make an album of music, but agreed to make a spoken word record. Titled after his book of poems, and recorded with just Gil and three percussionists, the album opened with the coruscating ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’. Still enthralling over 40 years on, it’s often forgotten how good this version is in comparison to the recording Gil made with a full band for his second album. His performance is perfectly judged, bringing emphasis where it was needed, without ever resorting to histrionics. By the time he reaches the final “The revolution will be no rerun, brothers, the revolution will be live”, the listener is hooked as surely as if he was watching a weekly soap opera.

The rest of the album covered topics as diverse as the harsh conditions in the housing projects, music and a subway poster for a horror movie. Most of the work still stands up today, with Gil always retaining a sense of humour and humanity, however angry he is. “Small Talk at 125th and Lenox” did well enough for Thiele to commission a follow-up, to be recorded with a full band. Gil had been working up a number of songs with Brian Jackson, a fellow student at Lincoln University. It was Jackson who lifted Gil’s music out of the rudimentary — something Gil was always keen to point out: “Brian was integral.”

“Pieces Of A Man” is an astounding album. Recorded with a band of top session musicians, with Jackson on piano, there isn’t a bad track. The title track is a beautiful and moving tale of the destruction of a man’s worth told from the viewpoint of his son, while ‘Home Is Where The Hatred Is’ captures the hellish nature of drug addiction and the hypocrisy of those who criticise rather than help addicts. ‘Lady Day and John Coltrane’ is not just a tribute to the titular heroes but to the uplifting quality of music itself.

The album sold well enough and Esther Phillips’ cover of ‘Home Is Where The Hatred Is’ brought further attention to Gil. Thiele was keen to get a third album together and the resultant “Free Will” was Gil’s most political yet. The wondrous ‘Did You Hear What They Said?’ skewers the Vietnam War more effectively than any thousand-word polemic. The title track takes aim at those who talk about themselves rather than getting involved in helping the community. The second side is a return to the spoken-word style of the first album and in ‘No Knock’ and ‘The King Alfred Plan’ gives us vibrant attacks on the Nixon administration. The album was the final release on the label. The alternate version contained here gives us a wonderful insight into Gil’s way of working.

At the time of their release, these albums did OK, but didn’t sell a whole lot of copies. Today they are the basis for the laudatory essays that appeared at the time of his 2011 comeback album “I’m New Here” and on his death a few months later. This 3CD set contains the best from a career that was full of great records.

 

By Dean Rudland

 

The three CD set will be released on Ace records BGP label on November 26th 2012

 

Buy from Ace:

Pre order from Ace Free delivery in the UK

 

What's on the idscs:

 

Side 1

 

01 Lady Day And John Coltrane

02 Home Is Where The Hatred Is

03 Save The Children

04 The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

05 Did You Hear What They Said?

06 Pieces Of A Man

07 Speed Kills

08 Everyday

09 I Think I'll Call It Morning

10 When You Are Who You Are

11 Free Will

12 Or Down You Fall

13 The Needle's Eye

14 The Middle Of Your Day

15 A Sign Of The Ages

16 Who'll Pay Reparations On My Soul?

 

Side 2

 

01 Introduction / The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

02 Whitey On The Moon

03 No Knock

04 Small Talk At 125th & Lenox

05 Billy Green Is Dead

06 Sex Education: Ghetto Style

07 The Vulture

08 The Prisoner

09 ...And Then He Wrote Meditations

10 Plastic Pattern People

11 The Get Out Of The Ghetto Blues

12 Artificialness

13 Ain't No New Thing

14 Brother

15 Evolution (And Flashback)

16 The King Alfred Plan

17 Enough

18 Paint It Black

19 Omen

20 Wiggy

21 Comment #1

22 The Subject Was Faggots

 

Side 3

 

01 Did You Hear What They Said? (Alt take 1)

02 The Middle Of Your Day (Alt take 1)

03 Free Will (Alt take 1)

04 The Get Out Of The Ghetto Blues (alternate ending)

05 Speed Kills (Alt take 3)

06 The King Alfred Plan (Alt)

07 No Knock (Alt)

08 Wiggy (Alt)

09 Ain't No New Thing (breakdown take)

10 Billy Green Is Dead (Alt)

11 ...And Then He Wrote Meditations (Alt)

12 No Knock (breakdown Alt take)

13 Free Will (Alt take 2)





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The three albums Gil Scott-Heron recorded for Bob Thiele’s Flying Dutchman label are some of the most important in the history of black music. They show a multi-talented artist reaching maturity with his first recorded efforts. ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ transcended its place as an album track to become an aphorism, a slogan on a T-shirt,

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Great article about a very important and influential artist.

Thanks for sharing.

Peter

:thumbsup:

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Great Article, always a hero of mine.

Reflections, Moving Target were probably my favourite albums by him & a bit more political, a genius & poet IMO.

Cool as a cucumber.

Aid.

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Great Article, always a hero of mine.

Reflections, Moving Target were probably my favourite albums by him & a bit more political, a genius & poet IMO.

Cool as a cucumber.

Aid.

Was he ever a member of The Last Poets ??

kegsy

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Was he ever a member of The Last Poets ??

kegsy

Don't think he was actually a member Kegsy but he was certainly associated with them & used some of their material I think.

Such a sad demise of a great man in the end, proper downward spiral, jail & HIV.

Always loved this one..

Aid.

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Don't think he was actually a member Kegsy but he was certainly associated with them & used some of their material I think.

Such a sad demise of a great man in the end, proper downward spiral, jail & HIV.

Always loved this one..

Aid.

Everybodys got a pistol, everybodys got a forty five.

And we dont need no RE-Ron either.

If anybody knew Ag-knew.

Will stop now probably miles in front of most on here.

Kegsy

Edited by Kegsy

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Don't think he was actually a member Kegsy but he was certainly associated with them & used some of their material I think

Aid.

The thing was the last poets all had muslim names

so who were they in really ???

kegsy

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Another one of my fav artists now gone. For me this lp;Pieces Of A Man,every home should have one. 3 words to describe this lp: The dogs Bollocks lol.

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Everybodys got a pistol, everybodys got a forty five.

And we dont need no RE-Ron either.

If anybody knew Ag-knew.

Will stop now probably miles in front of most on here.

Kegsy

Yeah, he was full of clever little play on words.

H2O gate Blues, fabulous.

Another fav lyric I like......

'And since John Wayne was no longer available, they settled for Ronald Reagan'

Class.

Aid.

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Yeah, he was full of clever little play on words.

H2O gate Blues, fabulous.

Another fav lyric I like......

'And since John Wayne was no longer available, they settled for Ronald Reagan'

Class.

Aid.

From the brilliant "B Movie" Aid, checkout the live version on Youtube, I had it on video for years when it was part of a documentary they showed on him in the mid 80,s BTW he calls him Ronald the Ray gun, fooking brilliant, and the lead up rap to the actual song is brilliant and so true

Kev

Edited by kev cane

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Agreed, total 1 off genius. Love all his LPs (bar his last), with "Pieces of a man" right up there with Marvin's "What's goin on" for me.

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Amen to all that. He was the man when he was at the height of his powers. The thing that sometimes gets overlooked with Gil was just how funny he was. I saw him live many times and he'd always do a little soliloquy / mini stand up routine.

Jaws - ain't hardly no black people in no horror movies. Genius.

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Amen to all that. He was the man when he was at the height of his powers. The thing that sometimes gets overlooked with Gil was just how funny he was. I saw him live many times and he'd always do a little soliloquy / mini stand up routine.

Jaws - ain't hardly no black people in no horror movies. Genius.

For sure. He's one of those artists that I'm saving for old age along with John Coltrane, Miles Davis and numerous Jazz and Southern Soul recordings because that's when I'll have the time to listen to them properly. The last time I had the luxury of listening to full albums from beginning to end was back in the early 70's, so I'm saving a lot of stuff for future listening and I put Gil in that catergory. I saw him in Sheffield in the 70's and it was a great gig but "The Bottle" was what everyone was waiting for and I think most of us either lacked the sensibility or were too young to fully appreciate his depth. I'm looking forward to it if I can just prise one of those sets off Dean LOL.....

Ian D :D

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