Friday, 4 August 2017

"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised...Plus" by GIL SCOTT-HERON (2017 Ace Records/Beat Goes Public (BGP) 'Expanded Edition' CD Reissue and Remaster with Nine Bonus Tracks) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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For most British music fans - GIL SCOTT-HERON and his fabulous Jazz-Funk-Poetry and Social-Consciousness-Soul became a physical vinyl reality with this December 1974 US compilation LP. An amalgam of eight tracks from his second and third US studio releases on Bob Thiele's Flying Dutchman Records ("Pieces Of A Man" from December 1971 and "Free Will" from August 1972) - it also came with three newly mixed Scat Intros thrown in. Hell the 11-song record was even belatedly released June 1975 in Blighty on RCA Records - named of course after his most famous and controversial song - "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised".

For their June 2017 UK CD Reissue and Remaster – Ace Records' Beat Goes Public label (BGP) has decided to bolster up the original 11-track compilation with Nine Bonus Tracks from the first three platters - making CDBGPD 305 a very tasty purchase indeed. Here are the Lady Days, John Coltranes and Whiteys On The Moon...

UK released Friday, 30 June 2017 (7 July 2017 in the USA) - "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised...Plus" by GIL-SCOTT HERON on Ace Records/Beat Goes Public CDBGPD 305 (Barcode 029667077927) offers the 11-Track US LP with Nine Bonus Tracks added on and plays out as follows (63:44 minutes):

1. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised [Side 1]
2. Sex Education: Ghetto Style
3. The Get Out Of The Ghetto Blues
4. No Knock [without intro]
5. Lady Day And John Coltrane
6. Pieces Of A Man
7. Home Is Where The Hatred Is [Side 2]
8. Brother [without intro]
9. Save The Children
10. Whitey On The Moon [without intro]
11. Did You Hear What They Said?
Tracks 1 to 11 are the US-based compilation "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" - released December 1974 in the USA on Flying Dutchman Records BDL1-0613 and June 1975 in the UK on RCA Records SF 8428 (US copies came in a gatefold sleeve - UK copies were single covers).
Tracks 1, 5, 6, 7 and 9 are from his 2nd US album "Pieces Of A Man" - released December 1971 on Flying Dutchman Records FD 10143
Tracks 2, 3 and 11 are from his 3rd US album "Free Will" - released August 1972 on Flying Dutchman Records FD 10153
Tracks 4, 8 and 10 are newly-mixed and edited 1974 creations

12. When You Are Who You Are
13. I Think I'll Call It Morning
14. Or Down You
15. Free Will
16. The Middle Of Your Day
17. Speed Kills
18. Paint It Black
19. Who'll Pay Reparation On My Soul?
20. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
Tracks 12, 13 and 14 are from his second US LP "Pieces Of A Man" - released December 1971 on Flying Dutchman Records FD 10143
Tracks 15, 16 and 17 are from his 3rd US LP "Free Will" - released August 1972 on Flying Dutchman Records FD 10153
Tracks 18, 19 and 20 are from his US debut LP "Small Talk At 125th And Lenox" - released January/February 1971 on Flying Dutchman Records FDS-131 (recorded live in 1970)

The 16-page booklet pictures rare American 45s – the Side 1 and Side 2 labels of the US original Flying Dutchman LP as well as providing full colour plates of the three albums this CD reissue takes from. DEAN RUDLAND provides the info – entertaining and insightful as ever – while long-standing Audio Engineer NICK ROBBINS provides the beautiful Remasters. The sound on this reissue is wonderful.

It's easy to hear why Brits fell head over heels for Scott-Heron when you listen to the whole compilation - eight of his best tracks mixed in with three rapped intros that feel like they could always have been there. The way the songs run - it feels like a major album release in the same vein as say Marvin's "What's Going On" or Mayfield's "Curtis" or Donny Hathaway's "Extension Of A Man" or even Stevie's "Innervisions" - the overall listen is just fantastic. And you have to say that the Remaster is just gorgeous – kicking with power and detail. You hear Purdie’s drums – everything. Just check out the superlatively concise guitar solo by Burt Jones on the get-it song "When You Are Who You Are" complimented throughout by Hubert Laws on Saxophone. That’s followed by crystal clear Brian Jackson piano on "I Think I'll Call It Morning" held up by sweet Bass plucks from Ron Carter – gorgeous stuff and joyful music too. This LP worked too because not everything is a rant against the white oppressors - songs like "Sex Education: Ghetto Style" is funny - "Brother" is cutting when it comes to his own colour's shortcomings and both "The Get Out Of The Ghetto" and "Save The Children" songs feel sexy and soulful in that Marvin way.

Back when the second album "Pieces Of A Man" was issued in August 1972 in the USA and credited as Gil Scott-Heron with Pretty Purdie and The Playboys (Drummer Bernard Purdie) – Flying Dutchman tried "Lady Day And John Coltrane" as a lead off US 7” single with "Save The Children" on the flipside (FD 26015) – both tracks on this compilation of course. Because the "Pieces Of A Man" album was delayed until 1973 – the British 45 on Philips 6073 705 didn’t arrive until April 1973 and had the first bonus track on this CD as its B-side - "When You Are Who You Are". It’s modest Record Collector Price Guide price of under a tenner doesn’t reflect the difficulty you would have of locating a copy (I’ve never actually seen one). The other US 45 represented on here is his 1971 debut - "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" b/w "Home Is Where The Hatred Is" on Flying Dutchman FD 26011 (again credited to Gil Scott-Heron with Pretty Purdie and The Playboys). That B-side is one of the albums other gems – drugs at home instead of family and love – Gil’s lyrics hard-hitting, real and humane – like the whole album.

The CD then cleverly lines up nine more from the three LPs - the Bonus cuts themselves feeling like another overlooked album nugget. By the time you get to the spoken poem "Paint It Black" and you're in love with the man. The first LP only had a few music tracks on it (see my separate review for "Small Talk At 125th And Lenox") and "Who'll Pay Reparation On My Soul?" was one of them - the White House reading out platitudes to beleaguered ghetto families from cue cards. And it ends with his 'first version' of "The Revolution Will Not To Be Televised" where he raps his poem to a Tabla beat - the crowd stunned as he speaks of stolen TVs and pigs shooting innocent bystanders and black people in the street looking for a brighter tomorrow...  

"...A rat done bit my sister Nell...and whitey's on the moon..." - Gil sings on his most famous song - raging against ghetto poverty while NASA spends billions back in a time when the word billions was truly a gargantuan amount.

A truly superlative reissue of a huge Soul-Funk-Jazz album from that golden Seventies period – "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised". And not for the first time has Ace Records of the UK pulled off an absolute winner. 

Put this high on your shopping list and hope Gil returns in spirit form to guide us for when man goes to Mars for a few quid more than billions...

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