"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"
We first heard that statement in 1970 when Gil Scott-Heron, who many have
called the father of rap, exploded on the scene with
a clear voice expressing experiences of black life in America that few
outside the black community were aware of and , sadly now, he has left us.
That first album "Small Talk at 125th and Lenox" featured Gil's
poetry accompianied only by conga drums.
In the seventies, with Brian Jackson, he produced a number of classic albums addressing local and international issues of freedom as well as personal introspection.
The two albums "Spirits" 1993, and "I'm New Here" 2010 form bookends of the later, troubled period of Gil's life that was plagued with drug addiction and may be some of the most personal expressions he ever did.
"Spirits" starts off with "Message to the Messengers" a directive to rappers to use their medium in a positive way. The title track is a vocal version of John Coltrane's "Spirits" and "Give Her A Call" and "Spirits Past" are fine examples of Gil's great songwriting. The second side contains the work of a man struggling with his demons. "The Other Side" is a harrowing remake of his earlier "Home is Where the Hatred Is" and it cooks with raw energy and power. "Don't Give Up" is a heartfelt song about overcoming adversity, both external and internal.
"I'm New Here" follows "Spirits" after 17 years and is different that anything he recorded before.
Stripped down arrangements augmented with samples and Gil's mature voice create a haunting album
that examines a life as one gets older.
Starting and ending with "On Coming From A Broken Home", a memory of Gil's childhood the album moves to "Me and The Devil" an chilling rendering of an old blues tune and continues with spoken word interludes that connect the songs. There are individual songs that stand alone here like "New York Is Killing Me" and the title track, but I think this album works best, as Gil reccommends on the inner sleeve, when listened to in its complete form. This was Gil's last statement and if you listened to his music in the past, this belongs in your collection.