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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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GIL SCOTT-HERON

The Revolution Begins -
The Flying Dutchman
Masters

BGP GILBOX 017

 

 

CD 1: Songs
1. Lady Day And John Coltrane
2. Home Is Where The Hatred Is
3. Save The Children
4. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
5. Did You Hear What They Said?
6. Pieces Of A Man
7. Speed Kills
8. Everyday
9. 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?
 
CD 2: Poetry, Jazz and Blues
1. Introduction / The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
2. Whitey On The Moon
3. No Knock
4. Small Talk At 125th & Lenox
5. Billy Green Is Dead
6. Sex Education: Ghetto Style
7. The Vulture
8. The Prisoner
9. ...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
 
CD 3: The Alternate Free Will
1. Did You Hear What They Said? (Alt. take 1)
2. The Middle Of Your Day (Alt. take 1)
3. Free Will (Alt. take 1)
4. The Get Out Of The Ghetto Blues (Alternate ending)
5. Speed Kills (Alt. take 3)
6. The King Alfred Plan (Alt.)
7. No Knock (Alt.)
8. Wiggy (Alt.)
9. 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)

 

Gil Scott-Heron might be said to have pioneered two forms of music that I don't like much: rapping and hip-hop. I find his version of rapping much more acceptable than some of the present-day raps, which are often either incomprehensible or offensively egoistic. Scott-Heron really started as a poet and his early recordings mostly consist of him reciting his poems against a background of percussion. Then, with help from musician Brian Jackson (a fellow-student at Lincoln University), he added music which widened his appeal. Gil turned out to have a very pleasant singing voice, phrasing with the free style of a jazz vocalist.

This triple-CD collection contains all the recordings that Gil made for Bob Thiele's Flying Dutchman label, plus a track (Artificialness) that Gil recorded with Pretty Purdie's band and an alternative version of the Free Will album.

Scott-Heron was an angry young man, and his anger pervades this compilation. Tracks like The Revolution Will Not Be Televised and Whitey On The Moon powerfully express the passionate outrage of a black man oppressed by racial prejudice and discrimination. Did You Hear What They Said? touchingly articulates disbelief at the inhumanity of the Vietnam War. Many tracks tell stories or paint pictures, often repeating the same words over and over again.

These recordings were made in 1970 and 1971 - long before the craze for rapping appeared. Gil Scott-Heron showed how rapping could be used to convey messages about such evils as racialism, and his obvious sincerity made the messages more cogent. The addition of music rendered the messages more accessible and even got Gil into the charts. It is good to have this reissue, with clear sound quality. But I wonder why they didn't keep the tracks in the same order as they were originally released.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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