Saturday, 5 August 2017

"Pieces Of A Man" by GIL SCOTT-HERON (November 2001 RCA Victor Gold Series CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"…I Can't Breathe!"

"...The revolution will not be televised…" Uttered originally as a poem in 1970 and finally put to music for his 2nd Flying Dutchman Records album in 1971  – these are quite possibly the most famous anti-establishment words sung in a Soul song – ever.

And yet in 2014 with the NET and 24-hour NEWS TV – the hurt and rage that led to that satirical and acidic piece has never been more pertinent. Much of that crap is still with us and we’re still purging it out of our lands and lives. Post Eric Garner's loss (killed in July 2014 by a NYPD chokehold while being arrested for the piffling crime of selling loose cigarettes) - I listen to this fabulous album today and I’m still moved - a genius slice of Seventies Soul Conscience. Here are the socially spot-on details from the mighty Gil Scott-Heron…

Euro released November 2001 – "Pieces Of A Man" by GIL SCOTT-HERON on RCA Victor Gold Series 74321851632 (Barcode 743218516320) is a straightforward CD remaster of the 1971 LP and plays out as follows (48:00 minutes).

1. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised [Side 1]
2. Save The Children
3. Lady Day And John Coltrane
4. Home Is Where The Hatred Is
5. When You Are Who You Are
6. I Think I’ll Call It Morning
7. Pieces Of A Man [Side 2]
8. A Sign Of The Ages
9. Or Down You Fall
10. The Needle’s Eye
11. The Prisoner
Tracks 1 to 11 are his second album “Pieces Of A Man” released December 1971 in the USA on Flying Dutchman FD 10143 (Correct release date Billboard).

“Pieces Of A Man” was belatedly released in the UK on Philips 6369 415 in April 1973 with a different running order as follows (use tracks 1 to 11 above):
Side 1:
1. Lady Day And John Coltrane
2. Where You Are Who You Are
3. I Think I’ll Call It Morning
4. Home Is Where The Hatred Is
5. Save The Children
6. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
Side 2:
1. Pieces Of A Man
2. A Sign Of The Ages
3. Or Down You Fall
4. The Needle’s Eye
5. The Prisoner

Coming out of BMG France - the simple gatefold card digipak offers basic recording info on the inner flap (no booklet). Recorded over two days in April 1971 (19th and 20th) and Produced by BOB THIELE – the album has been remastered from original master tapes in 24-bit by JEAN-PIERRE CHALBOS – and he’s done a lovely job. The delicate and moving “Pieces Of A Man” features Heron on Piano with Ron Carter on Electric Bass – it’s a tiny bit hissy (as was the original recording – all feel and emotion) – but the remaster lets it breath and is so much the better for it.

Other highlights are the gorgeous ballad “Or Down You Fall” and the Curtis Mayfield funky “When You Are Who You Are” with its “you can be so very beautiful when you are who you are…” lyrics about his lady. “Save The Children” features the distinctive flute of HUBERT LAWS while “Home Is Where The Hatred Is” best shows his stunning band – BRIAN JACKSON on Keyboards, BURT JONES on Guitar, RON CARTER on Bass with superb drumming from BERNARD “PRETTY” PURDIE. It ends on a duo of socially conscious tunes – the upbeat “The Needle’s Eye” and the 9 ½ minute masterpiece “The Prisoner”. Both are lyrically stunning but it’s the closer “Prisoner” that stays with you – beginning with creepy scraping strings and drum whacks that then segue into piano rolls and words of pain – masterful stuff.

A beautiful album – proud, unique and yet eternally current – "Pieces Of A Man" is up there with the best Soul from the early Seventies has to offer

"...Pigs shooting down brothers…" (Revolution) and "...Leave the hate and fear behind" (The Needle’s Eye). Scott-Heron sang these lyrics in 1971. 

How depressing that in December 2014 with the "...I can't breathe…" protests in the USA – the first set of words are so sickeningly relevant still and the second set - a lesson we're still learning…

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