Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Scott Free

An unscientific survey of the popular works of the late Gil Scott-Heron would conclude (based on mentions of his songs in his obituaries) that his fan's top 5 would go something like this:

1. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
2. The Bottle
3. B-Movie
4. Lady Day and John Coltrane
5. Johannesburg (or possibly Grandma's Hands)

Of course, over an erratic but productive career, he was responsible for far more than this narrow selection, but these were the ones the journalists and the radio DJs kept returning to.

Shame, really, that they missed my personal favourite. Re-Ron was released in 1984, and while it treads the same ground as B-Movie, it has far more bite, more urgency both musically and lyrically. The production (by Material) may sound a little dated, but, for me, drum machines, Fairlight stabs, and noise will always embody angry political lyrics far better than the narcotised jazz that accompanied much of Scott-Heron's 70s and 80s output (something that Public Enemy implicitly understood 2 years later).

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